Skip to main content

How to avoid job-killing budget cuts

By Barbara Boxer, Special to CNN
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1546 GMT (2346 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Barbara Boxer: There are many ways to reduce our deficit and avert the sequester
  • Boxer: I offer three ideas, including cracking down on tax fraud and corporate tax evasion
  • She says House Republicans' "Plan C" is not a solution, it's a recipe for disaster
  • Boxer: Our top priority should be to strengthen the economy using a balanced approach

Editor's note: Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, is the junior U.S. senator from California. She is chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

(CNN) -- When it comes to the fiscal challenges facing our country, Republicans always insist on taking the hard road.

They nearly set off a recession by waiting until just after New Year's Eve to agree to keep taxes from rising for millions of middle-class families. They caused the first credit downgrade in our country's history by threatening a catastrophic default. And now they seem ready -- even eager -- to let painful automatic spending cuts take effect, which would result in the loss of at least a million jobs.

The good news is there's an easier path.

Obama calls for short-term fix to imminent spending cuts

Barbara Boxer
Barbara Boxer

We can stop this self-inflicted wound to our economy -- and we must -- but we have to act fast.

There are many common sense ways to reduce our deficit and avert the sequester, which would hit defense and domestic programs with $1.2 trillion in indiscriminate cuts over 10 years. While we have started discussing some of these ideas at the Senate Democratic retreat this week, here are few of mine:

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



-- We should begin by applying the nearly $700 billion in savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan toward reducing the deficit and avoiding these automatic cuts.

-- We should let Medicare negotiate drug prices, which would save as much as $200 billion over 10 years and lower drug costs for seniors.

-- And we should crack down on tax fraud and corporate tax evasion, which could help save more than $100 billion a year.

These three proposals alone could help us save nearly $2 trillion over 10 years. They are popular with the public and would help us address our long-term fiscal challenges.

These savings would build on the almost $1.5 trillion in spending cuts that we have already approved since President Barack Obama took office, which are helping to reduce our deficits to the lowest level in five years.

House Republicans have offered their alternative to avoiding the sequester, known as "Plan C." The plan would spare the Pentagon any pain, but it would slash investments that benefit the middle class, seniors, children and the poor -- from child lunches to cancer research to meals on wheels programs.

That's not a solution -- it's a recipe for disaster. We can do better.

Americans got a wake-up call last week when the GDP figures were released, showing that our economy shrank by 0.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012.

A massive dose of austerity is exactly the wrong prescription for our country right now. The president was right when he said on Tuesday that our economy is heading in the right direction and will continue to do so as long as Congress does not inflict more damage.

Our top priority should be strengthening the economy, and that includes preserving critical investments in things such as education, transportation and medical research that create jobs.

When it comes to reducing our debt, let's take the easy path. That means a balanced approach of new revenues and sensible spending cuts that will keep our economy growing and protect American families.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Barbara Boxer.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Alexander Motyl says as Russian President Putin snarled at Ukraine, his foreign minister was signing a conciliatory accord with the West. Whatever the game, the accord is a major stand down by Russia
April 23, 2014 -- Updated 1229 GMT (2029 HKT)
Les Abend says at every turn, the stowaway teen defied the odds of discovery and survival. What pilot would have thought to look for a person in the wheel well?
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
Q & A with artist Rachel Sussman on her new book of photographs, "The Oldest Living Things in the World."
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1958 GMT (0358 HKT)
Martin Blaser says the overuse of antibiotics threatens to deplete our bodies of "good" microbes, leaving us vulnerable to an unstoppable plague--an "antibiotic winter"
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1737 GMT (0137 HKT)
John Sutter asks: Is it possible to eat meat in modern-day America and consider yourself an environmentalist without being a hypocrite?
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1538 GMT (2338 HKT)
Sally Kohn notes that Meb Keflezighi rightly was called an American after he won the Boston Marathon, but his status in the U.S. once was questioned
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1256 GMT (2056 HKT)
Denis Hayes and Scott Denman say on this Earth Day, the dawn of the Solar Age is already upon us and the Atomic Age of nuclear power is in decline
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 2036 GMT (0436 HKT)
Retired Coast Guard officer James Loy says a ship captain bears huge responsibility.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1708 GMT (0108 HKT)
Peter Bergen says the latest strikes are part of an aggressive U.S. effort to target militants, including a bomb maker
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Cynthia Lummis and Peter Welch say 16 agencies carry out national intelligence, and their budgets are top secret. We need to know how they are spending our money.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1235 GMT (2035 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says President Obama knows more than anyone that he has much at stake in the midterm elections.
April 22, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
Eric Sanderson says if you really want to strike a blow for the environment--and your health--this Earth Day, work to get cars out of cities and create transportation alternatives
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1408 GMT (2208 HKT)
Bruce Barcott looks at the dramatic differences in marijuana laws in Colorado and Louisiana
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT)
Jim Bell says NASA's latest discovery supports the notion that habitable worlds are probably common in the galaxy.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1817 GMT (0217 HKT)
Jay Parini says even the Gospels skip the actual Resurrection and are sketchy on the appearances that followed.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1752 GMT (0152 HKT)
Graham Allison says if an unchecked and emboldened Russia foments conflict in a nation like Latvia, a NATO member, the West would have to defend it.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1311 GMT (2111 HKT)
John Sutter: Bad news, guys -- the pangolin we adopted is missing.
April 21, 2014 -- Updated 1825 GMT (0225 HKT)
Ben Wildavsky says we need a better way to determine whether colleges are turning out graduates with superior education and abilities.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
Charles Maclin, program manager working on the search and recovery of Malaysia Flight 370, explains how it works.
April 18, 2014 -- Updated 1250 GMT (2050 HKT)
Jill Koyama says Michael Bloomberg is right to tackle gun violence, but we need to go beyond piecemeal state legislation.
April 17, 2014 -- Updated 1845 GMT (0245 HKT)
Michael Bloomberg and Shannon Watts say Americans are ready for sensible gun laws, but politicians are cowed by the NRA. Everytown for Gun Safety will prove the NRA is not that powerful.
ADVERTISEMENT