Showdown Over Budget All But Certain In House
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Melissa Block.
MICHELE NORRIS, Host:
NPR's Andrea Seabrook has the story.
ANDREA SEABROOK: House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said this morning, today is the day conservatives take back control of the budget.
ERIC CANTOR: Republicans today were hitting the floor with the first big step towards trying to get our fiscal house in order by delivering on our commitment to cut more than $100 billion from the deficit this fiscal year.
SEABROOK: Still a lot, says California's David Dreier.
DAVID DREIER: The cuts in this bill are larger than the gross domestic product of 126 countries.
SEABROOK: Massachusetts Democrat Jim McGovern says Republicans are attacking these programs with a meat ax. The effect, he says, is...
JIM MCGOVERN: Reckless, thoughtless and heartless.
SEABROOK: Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi said the cuts will hit home literally in people's neighborhoods.
NANCY PELOSI: There would be up to 3,000 fewer cops on the beat and 24 hundred fewer firefighters on the job in our communities coast to coast.
SEABROOK: Pelosi said these budget cuts will hurt most where government help is most relied on: Food assistance for poor and pregnant women, slashed; a billion dollar cut in community health centers; local programs to help low-income women and teenagers avoid getting pregnant, zeroed out.
PELOSI: When it comes to health and education, Republicans put women and children last.
SEABROOK: Pelosi and other Democrats also warned today, cutting these programs means cutting thousands of public sector jobs, to which Republican House Speaker John Boehner replied this morning...
JOHN BOEHNER: If some of those jobs are lost in this, so be it. We're broke.
SEABROOK: And that's the problem with the Democrats' arguments, says Idaho Republican Mike Simpson. He says he hears Democrats say the right things...
MIKE SIMPSON: We got to make tough decisions. We've got to reduce the deficit. We've got to cut our spending. I hear those words and those phrases by every speaker that's come up. But yet, they oppose every effort to try to reduce the spending as if it is a drastic reduction.
SEABROOK: Andrea Seabrook, NPR News, the Capitol.
NORRIS: One Republican offers qualified support for President Obama's budget. Former Senator Alan Simpson calls the plan a start.
ALAN SIMPSON: At least you have everybody on board to admit that deficits are real and that there's no one shrinking about, quote, "Oh, you can't cut this or you can't cut that." It's just degrees of cut, and that's some kind of progress from my 31 years in political life.
NORRIS: Senator Simpson co-chaired the presidential commission that proposed deficit reductions last year. And you can hear more from him in an interview on tomorrow's MORNING EDITION.
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