GOP pitches "better, more responsible" federal spending cuts

Republicans called on President Obama in their weekly address to replace the looming budget sequester with “better, more responsible spending cuts” suggested by the House GOP.

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“There is a smarter way to reduce the size of government than to slash defense spending, threaten national security and hurt military families. In fact, the Republican-led House has already voted twice to replace the president’s sequester with targeted spending cuts based on real budget priorities,” Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) said.

Lawmakers are working to offset $85 billion of automatic government-wide spending cuts slated for March 1.

While Democrats prefer using a mixture of cuts and tax increases, Republicans want to rely entirely on spending reductions.

Senate Democrats released a plan to replace the automatic cuts, known as sequestration, on Thursday. It would slash spending by $55 billion — half from the Defense Department, half from ending direct farm subsidies — and generate $55 billion through tax changes.

Republicans, though, say attempting to close federal deficit through higher taxes would stunt an economic recovery. Instead, they want to decrease the gap by targeting social safety net programs favored by Democrats that the GOP says are bloated.

Obama, who wants to replace the sequester with a combination of tax increases and spending cuts, has asked Congress to at least pass a stopgap measure if it cannot reach a long-term agreement.

Republicans say sequestration was an administration tactic birthed during the 2011 debt-limit negotiations. With half the cuts scheduled to fall on the Defense Department, Roby characterized sequestration as Obama’s “ideological crusade for higher taxes.”

Roby said her district would be especially hard hit by sequestration, as it is home to Fort Rucker. She said the aviation-training base would have to cut back by about 500 students and lose roughly 37,000 hours of training.

“These numbers are astounding. And remember, this is just one set of cuts at one base,” she said.