Washington, D.C. – Today, the Center for American Progress released a new report urging Congress to reduce the sequester by using the revenue savings from the fiscal cliff deal passed at the end of 2012. The benefits of applying the fiscal cliff ’s deficit reduction to the sequester would flow disproportionately to critical investments such as education, research, and infrastructure. These sectors have borne the brunt of recent budget cuts, but they are exactly where we should be investing to rebuild the economy.
“Budget deficits have fallen dramatically, and part of that is due to the fiscal cliff deal,” said Harry Stein, Associate Director for Fiscal Policy at the Center for American Progress. “Using the fiscal cliff savings to reduce the sequester’s damaging austerity would help get the economy moving, which should be our first priority.”
The sequester is solving a short-term budget problem that no longer exists. Congress passed the sequester in the face of deeply concerning national debt projections, but those projections look much better now. One major reason for that improvement is the fiscal cliff deal. The report’s author, Harry Stein, explains that using the fiscal cliff savings—which amount to $737 billion over 10 years—to reduce the sequester is exactly in line with Congress’s initial intent to replace the sequester with smarter debt reduction.
As Stein points out, fixing the sequester to account for the debt reduction in the fiscal cliff deal would lay the foundation for a stable federal budget and a strong economic recovery. Even better, the benefits of applying the fiscal cliff’s deficit reduction to the sequester would flow disproportionatly to critical investments such as education, research, and infrastructure, which are all part of the broad category of nondefense discretionary spending. This disproportionate impact for nondefense discretionary programs is a result of the 2 percent limit on Medicare cuts in the sequester law. Since Medicare is already mostly protected from the nondefense sequester, nondefense discretionary programs benefit most from reducing the sequester.
Read the report: Why One Simple Fix Would Dramatically Reduce the Sequester by Harry Stein
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