Highlights of the Budget Debate on Military Spending (May 10, 2012)

by ROBERT NAIMAN

Highlights on Military Spending from the House debate on the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act  (May 10, 2012)

[compiled by Women's Action for New Directions from the Congressional Record.]


Barbara Lee (D-CA)
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the Sequester Replacement
Reconciliation Act.

Today, House Republican leadership is asking low and middle income families to sacrifice their health care and basic services in order to protect bloated and wasteful Pentagon spending and to protect tax cuts for millionaires. This out of touch budget to end the Medicare guarantee while giving massive tax breaks to Big Oil and the wealthiest is not a serious proposal, Mr. Speaker.

In these difficult times for millions of struggling families, Republicans are asking that we vote to cut $36 billion from the food stamp program and children’s health services so we can spend more money on cold war weapons that do nothing to improve our national security.

Our budget should reflect our values. We should not be balancing our budget on the backs of the most vulnerable. We do not have to make these heartless cuts that hurt our poor and struggling families so we can spend more money to build two more nuclear submarines or buy more over budget V–22 helicopters. We do not have to make choices that abandon
the needy, our seniors and the futures of our children.

We must come together to protect people who are struggling, our Nation’s children and our elderly during economic downturns, not make them more vulnerable. We must protect and invest in the futures of our most vulnerable families, not dole out more money to the Pentagon for outdated and over budget weapons programs that we don’t need and doesn’t make America any safer.

We should not be shortchanging the education of our children, risk the health of our seniors and allow our infrastructure to crumble beneath our feet so that bloated defense contractors can keep getting contracts.

The priorities on display in this bill are clear and shameful. Once again, the Republicans put millionaires and billionaires, subsidies for big oil and gas, and bloated Pentagon spending above everyone and everything else. As co-chair of the Out of Poverty caucus, I urge my colleagues to reject this attack on our most vulnerable.

Jim McGovern (D-MA) ….There are people in this country who are hungry. We are the richest country on the planet, and we have hungry people here. Yet what is our response? It's not to figure out a way to help deal with this terrible scourge. Our response--their response--is to take a meat-ax approach to SNAP, which will cut benefits. That's what the CBO says, that it will cut benefits and that people will have less food tomorrow than they have today if this is to become law.
I think that's a horrible choice. That's not a choice we should be discussing on the floor. Yes, let's make these programs more efficient.
But I'm going to tell you the SNAP Program is a hell of a lot more efficient than the Pentagon--the waste, the fraud, and the abuse in the Pentagon, the wasteful weapons systems in the Pentagon. I want to tell you that I don't care what Leon Panetta says. There aresavings to be
found in the Pentagon's budget, and we ought to go after that….

Gwen Moore (D-WI)
...It’s important that the American people know the truth about this sequestration replacement bill. And no matter how many times we hear that this package is going to cut welfare programs or socialist programs, like Medicare and Medicaid, things that we call the safety net, all for the sake of reserving every last dime of military spending, ignoring the opportunity to rout out waste, fraud, and peace dividends,
it doesn’t add up.

Peter Welch (D-VT)
….Second, and most importantly, the design of this bill guarantees that it will fail. Our budget is a three-pronged stool: domestic spending, Pentagon spending, and revenues. And if you want a strong and durable stool, you need three strong legs. This budget cuts two away. It takes revenues off the table completely, and it exempts the Pentagon, with its nearly $700 billion
budget, from making any contribution to debt reduction...

Pete Stark (D-CA)
…Republican leaders are claiming that this legislation is needed to reduce the deficit. That is false. The reality is that we are voting today to protect the bloated defense budget and tax breaks for millionaires. The choice before us could not be clearer: will you stand with families, children, and seniors? Or will you stand with special interests?
Do you believe America should be a nation that cares if children have enough to eat and
seniors can age with dignity? Or do believe our country should be run by and for the wealthiest among us?
The Sequester Replacement and Reconciliation Act (H.R. 5652) is designed to prevent the pending automatic spending cuts, or ‘‘sequester,’’that Congress passed last year in the Budget Control Act. Half of the $110 billion in cuts under the sequester would come from the defense budget. That makes sense, as roughly half of our discretionary budget is dedicated to defense. Medicare and other vital programs will also take a hit under the sequester.

As an alternative to the reckless Reconciliation Act before us today, Congress could come up with a balanced approach to replace the sequester while still cutting the deficit.
Such an approach should include ending taxpayer subsidies for oil companies, rolling back
subsidies for agri-business, allowing the Bush tax cuts for millionaires to expire, closing tax
loopholes that allow lawyers and lobbyists toavoid paying Medicare taxes. A balanced approach should also include cuts to defense, bringing the Afghan War to an end, and eliminating federal programs that do not work….

Mike Quigley (D-IL)
Mr. Speaker, today the House will consider the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act.
This bill is a broken promise. It would eliminate the Social Service Block Grant, which funds essential services like child abuse prevention and Meals on Wheels. It would cut off food assistance for 1.8 million Americans, and leave 100,000 children and senior citizens without health insurance, so we can increase defense spending.

We spend nearly as much on defense every year as the rest of the world combined.
This includes billions maintaining a nuclear arsenal designed for the Cold War, and $500 million a year for military bands. We can protect ourselves and our allies with a leaner, smarter defense.

Yet if we make cuts like these, our military will have little to defend.
We will only solve our debt crisis with a balanced, bipartisan approach that honors our commitments.