The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

Washington (AFP) – U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew called Thursday for Congress to replace the programed “sequester” spending cuts with more sensible reductions that will not retard economic growth.

Laying out the Obama administration’s views on negotiations just starting, Lew warned that the sequestration, which could increase the cuts forced in fiscal 2013 by nearly $30 billion in the current 2014 fiscal year, will act as a drag on economic growth.

“Any bipartisan agreement should be animated by a commitment to doing two things at once: reducing our medium- and long-term deficits while taking steps to make our economy more competitive,” Lew said.

“As we do that, we need to replace the harmful, across-the-board cuts known as sequestration with commonsense measures that rein in spending.”

Lew said that if left in place, the programmed cuts that began last March will reduce gross domestic product growth by 1.2 percent by the third quarter of next year.

“That translates into as many as 1.6 million fewer American jobs,” he said in a speech at the Center for American Progress.

“It should be no surprise that a policy never intended to go into effect is now producing results that raise many problems,” he said.

The sequestration program was originally devised as a poison-pill austerity program in 2012, mandatory cuts over 10 years that were supposed to force battling Republicans and Democrats to compromise on a less harsh long-term program to reduce the country’s deficit.

But a deal never came and the White House was forced to lop $85 billion from spending between March and the end of the fiscal year on September 30, with half of that from defense programs.

That ultimately became only $80 billion, according to the Bipartisan Policy Center think tank, but should rise to $109.3 billion in fiscal 2014, again half from defense and the rest from non-defense programs.

Lew said any talks should also include eliminating “wasteful” special tax benefits and loopholes for businesses and “eliminate costs where it makes sense.”

“If we can agree on sensible medium- and long-term policies to replace these short-term cuts, we can do something good for the economy and our national security,” he said.

AFP Photo/Jim Watson

Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Jeff Danziger lives in New York City. He is represented by CWS Syndicate and the Washington Post Writers Group. He is the recipient of the Herblock Prize and the Thomas Nast (Landau) Prize. He served in the US Army in Vietnam and was awarded the Bronze Star and the Air Medal. He has published eleven books of cartoons and one novel. Visit him at DanzigerCartoons.

The late Sen. John McCain

I don't know Kyrsten Sinema, but I did know John McCain. Not at all intimately, to be sure, but just enough to say -- despite her pretensions and the fantasies of her flacks that she is the reincarnation of the war hero in a purple wig -- that Kyrsten Sinema is no John McCain.

Lately Sinema has advertised herself as a "maverick," by which she means that she flouts the positions and policies of her party's leadership, and is supposed to pair her with McCain, who sometimes strayed from the Republican party line. Her most notorious attempt at imitation occurred last year with a gesture on the Senate floor marking her vote against a minimum wage increase. Her coy mimicry of the admired war hero was synthetic, leaving an unpleasant odor in its wake. When McCain delivered his bold "thumbs down" on gutting Obamacare, he was protecting Arizona's working families – not betraying them.

Keep reading... Show less
x
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}