Cong Barrow’s Budget Cutting Preferences ‘Blue,’ and Elusive

Category: Local Govts & Politics

SBJ Staff Report

April 4, 2011 – Congressman John Barrow (GA-12) sent out an e-mail last Thursday to constituents stating, “As Washington continues to bicker over how best to balance the budget, I want to tell you about two events I held last week in the district to highlight just how important it is that we get our nation’s finances back in order. These events – held in Augusta and Statesboro – gave folks the opportunity to try their hand at balancing the nation’s budget by making the same policy decisions facing lawmakers today.”

He goes on to report on what people had to say at the meetings. But, he provides voters with no insight into his personal views on how to cut the Federal deficit or how he intends to vote on funding the federal government which faces a deadline this Friday.  

But according to Barrow’s communications director Christopher Cashman, Barrow has joined with a group of fellow “Blue Dog Democrats” on a united position on the budget. The group held a press conference last week to state out their “benchmarks for fiscal reform” against which they will judge budget cutting options.    

The group has laid out a set of targets for long-term fiscal reform and deficit reduction that includes cutting the deficit by $4 trillion over the next 10 years, “with the largest deficit cuts in history by 2014,” according to Barrow’s office.

“It wasn't just one part of the federal budget that got us in the fix we're in, and we won't get out by focusing on just one part of the federal budget either,” said Barrow, Blue Dog co-chair.  “Our goal is to put everything on the table - tax reform, spending cuts, new accountability measures - and to start a real conversation with folks on both sides of the aisle about how to get our country back on a fiscally sustainable path.”

“We are spending all of our time in the House in a debate over 15 percent of the federal budget when the truth is we could eliminate every single non-defense federal program and still run huge annual deficits,” said Congressman Mike Ross (AR-4), Blue Dog co-chair.  “Targeted cuts in spending are an important part of the solution, but we are kidding ourselves – and the American people – if we think cutting a few hundred billion dollars is going to eliminate our deficit and solve our long-term debt crisis.  We have to take a comprehensive approach to our nation’s finances, and no one party can do it alone.  The Blue Dogs are inviting everyone to the table because until we start having a grown-up conversation, we will continue to mortgage our future on the backs of our children.”

The Blue Dog Benchmarks for Fiscal Reform include:

• Stabilize the debt and maintain a debt ratio to 60 percent of GDP by 2024

• Return to 2008 spending levels by 2013

• Reduce the deficit to 2.3 percent of GDP in 4 years

• Reduce the size of government

• Achieve deficit reduction with 2/3 spending cuts, 1/3 tax reform

But no specifics on Republican proposals to cut Medicare, Medicaid or changes to Social Security were outlined – just the generic statement:  “Everything must be on the table: Discretionary Spending Cuts – both security and non-security; Tax Reform; Entitlement Reform; Other Mandatory Policies; and Process Reforms.”

The 25-member, fiscally conservative Democratic Blue Dog Coalition was formed in 1995 with the goal of representing the center of the House of Representatives and appealing to the mainstream values of the American public, according to the group.

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