Bipartisanship needed to avert sequestration cuts

Any approach to deficit reduction that fails to distinguish between wasteful spending and critical investments would undermine our economy and security

In a matter of days, a series of damaging, across-the-board spending cuts are scheduled to take effect. These automatic cuts – known in Washington as “the sequester” – were never meant to be implemented.

In fact, they were designed to be so painful that just the prospect of implementing them would spur both parties to pass a more balanced plan to reduce the deficit and put our nation on a sustainable fiscal course.

With a March 1 deadline looming, we now face the very real possibility that partisan gridlock and inaction will trigger a cascade of indiscriminate cuts that would hurt New Hampshire families, undermine economic growth and job creation, and threaten our national security.

A recent study from George Mason University projected that almost half of all job losses stemming from sequestration would come from small businesses, the engine of growth and job creation in our economy. That same study put the potential job losses here in New Hampshire at more than 6,300.

Let’s be perfectly clear: We need to cut spending and get our fiscal house in order. But any approach to deficit reduction that fails to distinguish between wasteful spending we can’t afford to keep and critical investments we can’t afford to cut would undermine our economy and security.

Congress already has made significant progress on that kind of balanced approach. In recent years, Republicans and Democrats have worked together to reduce the deficit by more than $1.5 trillion, and we can and should do more to find additional savings.

We should start by cutting wasteful subsidies to large agribusiness and Big Oil companies making billions in profits. We should make sensible reforms that would reduce the cost of health care, let Medicare negotiate with pharmaceutical companies for lower prescription drug prices, and aggressively root out the billions of dollars in waste, fraud and abuse that plague our health care system. We should close loopholes that favor special interests and needlessly complicate the tax code.

These reforms – and many others – should be part of a balanced deal to reduce the deficit, grow the economy and move us beyond the partisan bickering.

Governing is a shared responsibility. A balanced, bipartisan approach to reducing the deficit isn’t just the right way forward – it’s the only way forward. Now is the time for Congress to step up and do its job.

U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., represents the 2nd Congressional District.

Categories: Opinion