February 17, 2023

Top Senate Democrats released a report Wednesday highlighting the far-reaching implications of the House GOP majority's push to freeze federal spending at fiscal year 2022 levels, a cap that would inflict severe cuts on programs that help low-income families afford food, healthcare, housing, and other necessities.

"We've heard a lot of talk from House Republicans about cutting spending, but very few specifics," said Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. "Well, that's probably because the specifics are actually pretty bad."

The new report, released under the banner of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC), estimates that reverting to fiscal year 2022 federal spending levels would "amount to a 12% cut to each and every" discretionary spending program, including military programs.

If Republicans shield military spending from their proposed cuts—as they've suggested they would—and maintain funding for veterans' medical care, cuts to other programs would have to be even steeper, the Democratic report notes.

"It would amount to a 30% cut to all other federal programs," the report estimates. "That's a 30% cut to the [National Institutes of Health], opioid addiction and mental health treatment, housing assistance, child care and child nutrition, law enforcement and public safety, science and innovation, and veteran assistance programs."

More specifically, the Democrats' analysis warns that the GOP plan would "deny 1 million babies access to formula"; "sharply reduce programs American parents depend on to raise their families, from Head Start, to affordable child care, to heating assistance, to child nutrition, to help with housing costs"; and "slash healthcare for seniors, people with disabilities, and low-income families."

"This report makes clear that when House Republicans throw out ideas like 'going back to 2022 funding levels,' which Speaker McCarthy and MAGA Republicans in the House want to do, they aren't actually proposing a 'freeze,'" Murray said Wednesday. "They are calling for drastic, draconian cuts that will hurt families in every corner of the country, undermine our economy, jeopardize our national security, and limit our future."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), chair of the Senate Budget Committee, said that "when you add up the cuts they want to make, they are so extreme they don't want to show them to you." The minimal details House Republicans have released indicate that they're planning to target the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Affordable Care Act subsidies, student debt relief, and more.

"If Republicans do as many promise and 'protect defense spending,' the cuts could surge as high as 30%," Whitehouse continued. "The arithmetic is devastating for them. And all of this is supposedly to deal with a national debt that they deliberately made worse with massive revenue losses because they lowered tax rates for their corporate and billionaire friends and donors."

"The MAGA majority's economic plan conveniently demands painful sacrifice only from seniors and working people while they insist on preserving or even expanding wasteful tax breaks for billionaires and greedy corporations."

Senate Democrats released their report just hours after the Congressional Budget Office warned that the U.S. could default on its debt as soon as this summer if Congress doesn't act to raise the borrowing limit, which Republicans are using as leverage to demand spending cuts that Democratic leaders have pledged to oppose.

A default would spark a devastating economic crisis, potentially wiping out millions of jobs and trillions of dollars in household wealth.

"Take the extreme MAGA House majority at their word that they intend to manufacture a costly default crisis unless they get concessions that weaken the retirement and health security of millions of Americans," Liz Zelnick, director of the Economic Security and Corporate Power program at Accountable.US, said in a statement Wednesday. "The MAGA goal of holding the debt limit hostage is twofold: damage the president politically and accomplish a decades-old right-wing mission of gutting Social Security and Medicare benefits."

"The MAGA majority's economic plan conveniently demands painful sacrifice only from seniors and working people while they insist on preserving or even expanding wasteful tax breaks for billionaires and greedy corporations," Zelnick added. "Many MAGA lawmakers conveniently ignore their own role in exacerbating the debt with trillions of dollars in wasteful tax breaks for giant corporations that never trickled down to anyone else."

Republished from Common Dreams (Jake Johnson, staff writer) under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

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