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
December 13, 2014 -- Updated 2108 GMT (0508 HKT)
The NFL's new Player Conduct Policy was a missed chance to get serious about domestic violence, says Mel Robbins.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1740 GMT (0140 HKT)
The slaughter of more than 130 children by the Pakistani Taliban may prove as pivotal to Pakistan's security policy as the 9/11 attacks were for the U.S., says Peter Bergen.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1600 GMT (0000 HKT)
The Internet is an online extension of our own neighborhoods. It's time for us to take their protection just as seriously, says Arun Vishwanath.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2154 GMT (0554 HKT)
Gayle Lemmon says we must speak out for the right of children to education -- and peace
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 1023 GMT (1823 HKT)
Russia's economic woes just seem to be getting worse. How will President Vladimir Putin respond? Frida Ghitis gives her take.
December 17, 2014 -- Updated 0639 GMT (1439 HKT)
Australia has generally seen itself as detached from the threat of terrorism. The hostage incident this week may change that, writes Max Barry.
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 2020 GMT (0420 HKT)
Thomas Maier says the trove of letters the Kennedy family has tried to guard from public view gives insight into the Kennedy legacy and the history of era.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1456 GMT (2256 HKT)
Will Congress reform the CIA? It's probably best not to expect much from Washington. This is not the 1970s, and the chances for substantive reform are not good.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 2101 GMT (0501 HKT)
From superstorms to droughts, not a week goes by without a major disruption somewhere in the U.S. But with the right planning, natural disasters don't have to be devastating.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1453 GMT (2253 HKT)
Would you rather be sexy or smart? Carol Costello says she hates this dumb question.
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 2253 GMT (0653 HKT)
A story about Pope Francis allegedly saying animals can go to heaven went viral late last week. The problem is that it wasn't true. Heidi Schlumpf looks at the discussion.
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 1550 GMT (2350 HKT)
Democratic leaders should wake up to the reality that the party's path to electoral power runs through the streets, where part of the party's base has been marching for months, says Errol Louis
December 13, 2014 -- Updated 2123 GMT (0523 HKT)
David Gergen: John Brennan deserves a national salute for his efforts to put the report about the CIA in perspective
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 1426 GMT (2226 HKT)
Anwar Sanders says that in some ways, cops and protesters are on the same side
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1439 GMT (2239 HKT)
A view by Samir Naji, a Yemeni who was accused of serving in Osama bin Laden's security detail and imprisoned for nearly 13 years without charge in Guantanamo Bay
December 14, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
S.E. Cupp asks: How much reality do you really want in your escapist TV fare?
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Rip Rapson says the city's 'Grand Bargain' saved pensions and a world class art collection by pulling varied stakeholders together, setting civic priorities and thinking outside the box
December 13, 2014 -- Updated 2310 GMT (0710 HKT)
Glenn Schwartz says the airing of the company's embarrassing emails might wake us up to the usefulness of talking in-person instead of electronically
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 2233 GMT (0633 HKT)
The computer glitch that disrupted air traffic over the U.K. on Friday was a nuisance, but not dangerous, says Les Abend
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 1740 GMT (0140 HKT)
Newt Gingrich says the CBO didn't provide an accurate picture of Obamacare's impact, so why rehire its boss?
December 13, 2014 -- Updated 0040 GMT (0840 HKT)
Russian aggression has made it clear Ukraine must rethink its security plans, says Olexander Motsyk, Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S.
December 12, 2014 -- Updated 0046 GMT (0846 HKT)
The Senate committee report on torture has highlighted partisan divisions on CIA methods, says Will Marshall. Republicans and Democrats are to blame.
December 11, 2014 -- Updated 1833 GMT (0233 HKT)
It would be dishonest to say that 2014 has been a good year for women. But that hasn't stopped some standing out, says Frida Ghitis.
ADVERTISEMENT