BEYOND THE NUMBERS
The House Appropriations Committee-approved plan to divide up 2014 discretionary funding among the 12 appropriations subcommittees would lead to deep cuts in a broad range of non-defense areas and shift tens of billions of dollars from domestic programs to defense and other security programs, our new analysis explains.
Total discretionary funding under the plan would equal the amount that the Budget Control Act (BCA) allows if sequestration continues next year as scheduled. But the plan gives defense programs much more funding than the BCA allows under sequestration, raising them close to the BCA cap before sequestration. And it gives non-defense programs much less funding than the BCA allows under sequestration.
But, if policymakers took the opposite approach, raising non-defense programs close to the pre-sequestration level, they would have to cut defense programs by about 10 percent below their current level.
The plan makes clear that if overall discretionary funding remains at the post-sequestration level in 2014, policymakers can protect funding in one major area only by making deeper cuts in other areas. The fundamental problem is that the overall funding level for discretionary programs under sequestration is too low.
The Administration threatened earlier this week to veto the first appropriations bill based on the plan (H.R. 2216, which funds military construction, veterans’ programs, and related programs), stating, “adhering to the overall spending limits in the House Budget’s topline discretionary level for fiscal year (FY) 2014, would hurt our economy and require draconian cuts to middle-class priorities.”
This graph shows how deeply the plan would cut non-defense areas in order to accommodate its funding increases for defense and other security programs. Overall funding for the Departments of Education, Health and Human Services, and Labor would be 18.6 percent below this year’s level after sequestration, while the bills funding the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the State Department would be 14 percent below the current level. The declines are even bigger once inflation is taken into account.
A far better approach would be to replace sequestration with a balanced package of spending cuts and revenue increases and fund discretionary programs at the BCA levels without sequestration, as the President’s budget and the Senate-passed budget resolution do.