Democrats Offer New Proposals to Avoid Sequester Cuts
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Democrats Offer New Proposals to Avoid Sequester Cuts

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February 19, 2013

With the March 1 sequester deadline looming, House and Senate Democrats have introduced new proposals to replace these drastic, across-the-board cuts through the end of this year with alternative budget savings and revenues.

NCOA supports these balanced approaches to deficit reduction.

Both proposals include equal amounts from spending cuts and revenues to reduce the federal deficit. President Obama is advocating for a similarly balanced approach to deficit reduction.

A Balanced Approach

The Senate Democrats proposal would avert the sequester through Jan. 2, 2014, with a $110 billion package containing:

  • $55 billion in cuts evenly split between reductions in defense spending and ending farm subsidy direct payments.
  • $55 billion in revenues from adopting the “Buffet Rule” regarding taxation of millionaires, ending deductions for outsourcing, and closing an oil industry tax loophole.

When combined with the Budget Control Act and other recent deficit reduction measures, the proposal would mean a total 2-to-1 ratio of spending cuts to revenues.

What's Ahead

Congress is in recess this week, and Republicans have stated that they will oppose using revenues to reduce the deficit. That makes it unlikely that the sequester will be delayed or replaced by March 1.

In fact, some lawmakers are advocating to allow the sequester to take effect because it may be their only means of ensuring significant additional spending cuts.

Advocates for the vulnerable, including NCOA, disagree. These arbitrary cuts would have a severe impact on non-defense discretionary programs like those in the Older Americans Act (OAA), Section 202 Housing for the Elderly, and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) program.

These programs that serve the most vulnerable Americans already have seen their funding cut recently.

Over the past two years, Congress has passed laws to reduce the deficit by over $2.3 trillion. Nearly three-quarters of this—totaling $1.7 trillion—has been the result of cuts to discretionary programs, while approximately $600 billion have come from revenues.

Yet Republican Congressional leaders have insisted that 100% of all future deficit reduction should come from spending cuts alone. In fact, House Speaker Boehner recently indicated that any new sequester replacement proposals should reduce the deficit to zero in 10 years, which would require enormous cuts to programs serving older Americans.

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