Preventing this outcome should not be a partisan issue.
HB: Is it feasible that a bipartisan agreement will be reached in time to avoid an economic crisis?
RG: I voted against the Budget Control Act because any budget law that fails to generate revenue and makes deep, arbitrary cuts without Congressional oversight is doomed to fail. The potential for a bipartisan fix is yet to be seen. Certain issues simply can't wait until the next session, such as fixing the Medicare doctor compensation rate. Others could be addressed retroactively, but only if conservatives are willing to negotiate.
HB: Is there a significant risk that the U.S. economy will slip into another recession if a budget agreement is not reached soon?
RG: Yes, although "soon" is a relative term. Additional cuts to social programs and large, unfocused cuts to defense programs could cause deep and lasting damage to our economy. Insisting on massive across-the-board cuts to make arbitrary numbers match up will do far more harm than good. Social program cuts will have the quickest and biggest impact -- the impact of military spending cuts will be on a somewhat longer, less steep curve.
HB: Are you willing to support a bipartisan compromise agreement that spares severe cuts to defense and other federally supported programs that traditionally help spur economic growth?
RG: My CPC colleagues and I have introduced a resolution that lays out four specific items we need to see in any program we'll support:
1. No cuts to Medicare, Social Security or Medicaid benefits. These cuts do nothing to help the economy, and they hurt those that need help the most.
2. Serious revenue generation. Revenues have been left out of the discussion for too long, and any serious conversation about deficit reduction needs to include them.
3. Defense spending needs to match today's threats, and the Pentagon should make more targeted choices.
4. Job-creating federal investments in key areas such as infrastructure and education need to be protected.
On this basis, I'm prepared to negotiate in good faith with anyone who wants to talk seriously about reducing our deficit. Demanding a cuts-only approach is unrealistic and will never have political support.
HB: Do you support defense cuts in direct proportion to reductions in domestic spending on U.S. social programs?
RG: We have already cut non-defense discretionary by $900 billion over 10 years in the first part of the Budget Control Act. We're asking middle class and low-income Americans to chip in more and more, whether they're servicemen, servicewomen or civilians.
HB: How will cuts affect employment?
RG: I think we would see major employment impacts from both defense and non-defense cuts. Massive, arbitrary cuts of any kind threaten to set back our economic recovery by years if not longer. We need to be more careful about how we make national economic policy.
HB: What impact will the mandatory cuts now set to take effect on Jan. 1, 2013, have on the residential and commercial real estate markets?
RG: The recently released sequestration report shows that many rural housing services would be jeopardized, including rental assistance programs, housing revitalization programs, and rural housing grants. While some income assistance programs are protected, the report shows that public housing programs -- including those for elderly and disabled Americans -- could be cut. All of these cuts will have near-certain negative ripple effects in other sectors of the economy.
Sequestration Q&A: Sen. Marco Rubio
Sequestration Q&A: US Rep. Linda Sanchez
Sequestration Q&A: US Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart
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