The PJ Tatler

House GOP Restores Defense Cuts in Symbolic Vote

There’s no way the bill passed by Republicans in the House that cuts food stamps and other domestic programs while restoring spending to the Pentagon will make it through the senate.

But in an election year, perception is reality. And the GOP in the House have established a clear difference between themselves and the tax raising, defense cutting plans of President Obama:

The legislation is “literally taking food out of the mouth of babies” while continuing tax breaks for the wealthy, said Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the minority leader. The cuts would replace across-the-board reductions to both defense and non-security programs that had been agreed to as part of last summer’s debt-ceiling deal with the White House.

Republicans countered they were tackling the nation’s deficit problems while preventing steep military cuts that Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has said would be devastating.

“Were hearing lots of comments about how this hurts people, how this hurts the poor,” said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the House Budget Committee chairman. “Let’s take a look at our poverty-fighting efforts. … These programs aren’t working.”

The legislation would cut $242 billion over 10 years — a down payment on the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction Congress had agreed to after months of negotiations as part of last summer’s deal to raise the debt ceiling.

Actually, the GOP did not “agree” to cut defense spending by half a trillion dollars in the debt ceiling agreement. They agreed that the cuts would take place if negotiations to cut the deficit were not successful. They weren’t, and the across the board cuts in both domestic and military spending were activated automatically.

Except no one believes the Democrats will countenance the kind of draconian cuts in domestic spending that the Republicans found unacceptable in defense spending. Hence, the GOP’s efforts to scuttle the deal while placing the lion’s share of the deficit reduction burden on domestic programs.

Even Obama crony, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, said the automatic cuts would be devastating to the military. But since we are likely to have a debt ceiling debate revival before the election, it’s hard to say how much of the restored spending will survive.