The federal government will continue running for at least two more weeks under a spending bill that cleared Congress and was signed by President Obama on Wednesday. Negotiations are underway on a longer-term spending bill, though Iowa Senator Tom Harkin says the budget plan is “exactly the wrong way to bring deficits under control.”
“I voted against the stop-gap, two-week budget bill because it gets us nowhere,” according to Harkin, a Democrat. “With House Republicans still threatening to shut down the government if we don’t agree to slash another $61-billion over the next seven months, which, quite frankly, translates into a $100-billion cut this year.”
The stopgap bill cuts four-billion dollars in federal spending. Harkin says Republicans are “taking a meat axe to essential parts of the budget,” which he says includes cuts to cancer research funding, education and safety net programs for the nation’s most vulnerable citizens.
“In December, Republicans insisted that we extend tax cuts, largely benefiting the wealthy, which will add a whopping $354-billion to the deficit this year and even more next year,” Harkin says. “Then they voted to repeal the health reform law which would add another $210-billion to the deficit over the next ten years.”
Harkin says economists predict the House GOP plan would result in economic growth falling two percentage points by the end of this year, with each point representing the loss of one-point-two million jobs.
Harkin says it’s a familiar pattern for Republicans: “Give tax breaks to the wealthiest people in our society, then balance the budget on the backs of the middle class and low income,” Harkin says. “These are misplaced priorities that do not reflect the values of the American people. Our economic recovery is still extremely fragile with nine-percent unemployment. There’s no question the Republicans’ budget cuts would kill jobs and greatly increase the odds of a double-dip recession.”
Harkin says they need spending cuts in addition to revenue increases in key areas, while investing in education, job training, research and infrastructure. He says the more balanced approach was taken in the 1990s: “It lead to the largest budget surpluses and the longest economic expansion in U.S. history, and created 22-million jobs.”