By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
In 2011, Republican budget negotiators crafted a deal with their Democratic colleagues and President Obama that created a bipartisan super committee which would sit down together and craft a plan that would get the nation on the path to a balanced budget. To force a deal, automatic sequestration cuts would start hacking away at both the Defense budget and non-defense discretionary spending if there was no deal.
The super committee was a complete debacle. Both parties appointed their most partisan members making a deal practically impossible with an election year approaching. Republicans gambled that Mitt Romney would be the President in 2013 and Democrats gambled that President Obama would be reelected and that Democrats would take the House. Both sides were disappointed with the results. Republicans maintained control of the House and Democrats maintained control of the Senate and White House. Efforts to reach a deal on the budget at the end of 2013 ultimately failed. Republicans agreed to Democratic calls for massive tax increases which were insufficient to prevent two budget ceiling raises in the last 10 months; but no budget deal was crafted to prevent the sequester cuts or pass a Farm bill. After a failed government shutdown in September, both parties are trying to craft some sort of a compromise on the budget and on the oft delayed Farm Bill renewal.
Freedomworks reported in an email over the weekend that, “Rumors are swirling that Republicans and Democrats may come to a budget ‘deal’ next week that actually INCREASES spending and ADDS to the National debt next year.”
According to the conservative group, “If the rumored deal is reached, current sequester spending constraints will be a thing of the past. While modest even by Washington standards, these cuts are the only spending reforms we have achieved under the Obama Administration. Unless real, long-term entitlement reform happens, the sequester must remain in place.”
The group, which has been very aggressive on fiscal budget issues wrote, “For years, D.C. has talked of reforming entitlement programs. But few politicians are willing to do what it takes to preserve America’s future. The sequester was a necessary first step to restore some measure of fiscal sanity in our nation’s capital. We simply cannot afford any budget deal that doesn’t at least preserve them. If enough Americans stand up, we can stop this deal. Tell Congressional Republicans to stand strong and oppose any budget deal that increases spending. It’s not a secret, if we don’t balance our nation’s checkbook, our future will be at risk.”
Similarly the group has opposed a bipartisan compromise on the Farm Bill. Freedomworks wrote, “Congress may reintroduce the Farm Bill next week. D.C. lobbyists want to pass the Farm Bill against the will of the people. They don’t want to afford you the opportunity to stop them. Earlier this year, patriots like you lit up Congress’ phones. You sent thousands of calls to your representatives, and in the end you defeated this horrible corporate welfare bill. But, the battle isn’t over.
The Farm Bill is a sham. Food stamps are being used to unite Democrats and Republicans behind bad policy. It’s an unholy alliance – one that pits the Washington Establishment against main street Americans. And, what’s worse, the pork-packed Farm bill doesn’t even help small farmers. The benefits go to the large agri-corporations that are pushing for the law. The same corporate interests who use their political clout to crush competition in the marketplace. You defeated the Farm Bill before – and you can certainly do it again.”
Alabama’s Republican Congressional members have been supportive of the Republican versions of the Farm Bill, while Freedomworks has opposed both the Democratic and Republican versions of the bill. It is not certain where the Alabama Congressional Delegation is on the sequester cuts, which have hit Alabama’s defense sector heavily. 50% of the controversial sequester cuts were targeted at defense even though defense is only about 20% of the federal budget and almost half of the Defense budget goes to veterans benefits.
Critics of the sequester say that a further hollowing out of America’s defense infrastructure could be potentially dangerous both for American national security…..and for Alabama’s defense related jobs.