While a temporary spending measure has averted a government shutdown in the United States, the two major political parties are still tens of billions apart in how much they’re willing to cut.
Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to cut $61 billion from this fiscal year’s budget but the Democratic majority in the Senate rejected the measure. Senior Democratic Dick Durbin of Illinois told Fox News Sunday this weekend that his party had “pushed this to the limit” with a proposed $10 billion cuts to domestic discretionary spending which accounts for roughly 12 percent of total expenditures.
Domestic discretionary spending excludes national security and longer term spending commitments, including pensions, health support programs and unemployment insurance.
Cutting more, Congressman Chris Van Hollen told CBS’ Face the Nation last week would be “reckless” and imperil job creation. Indeed, he claimed that hundreds of thousands of American jobs could be lost if the Republicans had their way.
If austerity could cause public workers to lose their jobs, House speaker John Boehner has said, “so be it.”
The spending Democrats are willing to cut includes agricultural research, animal and plant health programs, the Biomass Crop Assistance Program, the Environmental Protection Agency’s revolving funds and state and tribal grants, farm loans and housing guarantees for farmers, FBI construction, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, a Mentoring Children of Prisoners program, National Park Service funding, milk subsidies, the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund, public telecommunications, rural development, the Senior Community Service Employment Program, watershed programs and the Wildland Fire Suppression Program.
If cutting these programs is “painful” and potentially dangerous, it’s difficult to imagine Democrats even willing to contemplate entitlement reform which could hurt millions.