With the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, more commonly known as the “Supercommittee,” having failed to reach its deadline to propose reductions of $1.5 trillion from the federal deficit over the next 10 years, automatic cuts to the budget will soon be taking place.
Many in the Republican Party are now strongly voicing opposition to the automatic cuts that will be made to the defense budget, totalling approximately $600 billion.
But do the Republicans have a legitimate reason to call “foul” and argue against the proposed defense cuts? To answer this question, the formation of the Supercommittee itself must be examined.
The Supercommittee was established by the Budget Control Act of 2011, which allowed Congress to raise the debt ceiling as long as they cut $1.2 trillion from the deficit. The Supercommittee was tasked with giving a proposal to cut at least $1.5 trillion, with a deadline of Nov. 23. If Congress fails to propose $1.2 trillion in cuts by Dec. 23, raising the debt ceiling — something necessary to keep our economy afloat — would result in automatic cuts evenly distributed between defense and non-defense programs.
The Supercommittee failed to submit a proposal, and unless a small miracle happens, Congress will not come to an agreement by Dec. 23.
Defense officials and many Republicans are now saying that such drastic defense cuts put our nation at risk, and many have committed to fighting to see that those cuts do not take place.
The problem with this is those same Republicans agreed to those automatic cuts back in August. They have been unable to reach an agreement they are happy with and now they want to renege on their agreement to make automatic cuts.
Politicians on both sides of the aisle are to blame here. Both sides need to realize that if we are to reduce the deficit, there has to be some give and take. For Republicans, that is probably going to mean some kind of tax increase — whether it is ending a previous tax cut or adding a new source of revenue.
For Democrats, it will probably mean some sort of entitlement reform, whether that is to Medicare, Social Security or both.
Of all the blame-throwing going on, the person seeming to be getting hit the most is President Obama, which is ironic, as he deserves practically no blame. We have three branches of government, and the Executive Branch is not responsible for proposing laws; that job falls to Congress. Against the wishes of members of his own party, Obama did more than required by proposing one potential plan, and he has made it clear what he will and will not accept in the bill.
The rest is up to Congress. Right now the Republicans are squandering an opportunity to make gains in Congress by being unwilling to compromise, and stubbornness for the sake of stubbornness will not sit well with the American people come Election Day.
Editor’s note: Nathan Inks is the current president of the College Republicans.