House Republicans later today will pass legislation that slashes billions of dollars from domestic programs like food stamps and health care to free up money for defense. The goal, driven by the Republican party-wide vow tonever raise taxes, is to avoid the mandatory cuts in military spending that are slated for early next year as part of sequestration.
The bloated defense budget would be cut $454 billion over ten years on top of the $487 billion in cuts included in the 2011 debt ceiling deal. Last August, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said they would have devastating effects on our national defense. Cuts to domestic spending are no less draconian since they, too, are added to existing program cuts. $417 billion in cuts go deep and wide at a time of high unemployment, with Medicare, education, and a slew of poverty programs targeted.
Since the GOP plan is given no chance of passage in the Democratically-controlled Senate, the Republican move raises an interesting question. Do Speaker John Boehner, R-Oh., and Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan, R-Mich., think shifting money from domestic programs to the military is what the public wants at this moment in the nation’s history?
The “no new taxes” part of the Republican Party platform, when isolated from other issues, remains popular with voters. But the latest opinion surveys suggest the broad public is ready for a shift in spending priorities after a decade of war and fast-rising military spending, which more than doubled in the past decade.