LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth warned
Monday that deep spending cuts being pushed by congressional House
Republicans would imperil the nation's tenuous economic recovery
and cost hundreds of thousands of jobs at a time of stubbornly high
Fielding questions from The Courier-Journal's editorial board,
Yarmuth complained that the poor would shoulder the brunt of the
$61 billion in cuts envisioned in the GOP-led House's version of
the budget that would fund the government through September.
"These are cuts that have serious impact on the most vulnerable
populations of the country," Yarmuth, who represents a
Louisville-area district, told the board in a wide-ranging
interview that was streamed live online.
"On the other hand, there were no cuts made in subsidies to oil
companies, or coal companies or any change on the wealthy. ... We
haven't even made life ... inconvenient for the wealthiest
Americans, and yet we've asked the most vulnerable populations to
sacrifice a lot."
Fellow Kentuckian Hal Rogers, the powerful chairman of the House
Appropriations Committee, said in response that the cuts envisioned
by House Republicans would reverse "out-of-control Democrat
spending" that in the past two years increased discretionary
spending by more than 80 percent. Rogers, a Republican whose
district spans much of eastern Kentucky, including some of the
nation's most impoverished pockets, said the proposed cuts are
"deep but manageable" across a spectrum of government.
"These cuts go far and wide, and will affect every community in
the nation - including my own," he said in a statement. "These
were hard decisions, and I know many people will not be happy with
everything we've proposed in this package. That's understandable
and not unexpected, but I believe these reductions are necessary to
show that we are serious about returning our nation to a
sustainable financial path."
Facing a mushrooming federal deficit, Republican leaders are
under pressure from tea party-backed members in their own party to
make deep spending cuts.
"Never before has Congress undertaken a task of this magnitude,
but never before have we been faced with a deficit crisis of this
scale," Rogers, a key architect of the House budget plan, said in
Yarmuth, a member of the House budget committee, said the 87 GOP
House freshmen have shown "almost a religious fervor for cutting
the government" that could complicate talks among congressional
Democrats and Republicans along with the Obama administration in
seeking a compromise on budget cuts.
"They also seem to not really care much about politics, which
in one sense is respectable but it's also a factor that makes it
more difficult to compromise," Yarmuth said of the GOP House
Yarmuth predicted there's a slightly better than 50 percent
chance that Congress and the White House will reach a budget deal
that avoids a government shutdown. He said the choice is between
dramatic cuts that potentially derail the economic recovery, or
moderate cuts that help set a "clear path to fiscal stability."
"If you cut $61 billion or more out of the federal budget,
you're going to lose hundreds of thousands of jobs," Yarmuth
Yarmuth, one of two Democrats in Kentucky's six-member U.S.
House delegation, also said that deep budget cuts would hurt the
economy at a time when the country is trying to recover from the
deepest downturn since the Great Depression.
"When you take billions and billions of dollars out of the
economy, this is money that's going to be spent on the economy,"
he said. "This is really what led to the big recession - we had a
huge gap of demand in the economy. Well, now you're increasing that
gap. So when there's not as much demand, people don't have as much
money to spend, jobs are lost."
The Courier-Journal editorial board meeting:
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