A group of Senators led by Arizona Republicans John McCain and Jon Kyl today unveiled a bill to try to prevent nearly $500 billion in cuts to military spending, which were mandated after the congressional debt commission’s super committee failed to agree on where to trim $1.2 trillion from the federal budget.
Their plan calls for delaying the implementation of the mandatory spending cuts one year (in to 2014) in order to figure out how to offset the reductions. The Republicans don’t plan on raising taxes however. Instead, they want to cut federal jobs and freeze federal workers’ pay, Reuters reports:
The new proposal by McCain, Kyl and four other Senate Republicans would spare the military and selected domestic programs of cuts set to go into effect in January 2013. The $127 billion in budget savings would be achieved, instead, by scaling back the federal workforce and freezing its pay.
The move is designed to buy time for lawmakers to decide on more orderly reductions than the across-the-board cuts put in place after a special congressional committee failed to develop a deficit reduction plan last year, a Republican aide said.
“Let’s not let a domestic issue such as tax increases interfere…with our nation’s security,” McCain said at the bill’s unveiling on Capitol Hill today. In fact, the military can more than afford the extra $500 billion in cuts. Not only has the U.S. defense budget doubled in the last 10 years, the U.S. spends more than the next 14 countries combined. Indeed, as Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said, “it’s difficult, but it is not super hard” to make the reductions.
Democrats, however, balked at the plan. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) called the bill “unfair.” Referring to the fact that McCain and many of his GOP colleagues had indeed voted for the plan that ended up resulting in the sequester cuts, Reid added, “I believe that an agreement is an agreement. I believe that a handshake is a handshake. Here we have more than a handshake – we have a law that is in place in our country. They should keep their word. That’s what the American people expect them to do, and that’s what I expect them to do.”