White House to Congress: Don’t cut any more than necessary

White House to Congress: Don’t cut any more than necessary

The White House laid out a detailed list of programs that it does not want Congress to cut, and threatened to veto any spending bills that slashed investment to programs it favors.

"If the President is presented with a bill that undermines critical domestic priorities or national security through funding levels or language restrictions, contains earmarks, or fails to make the tough choices to cut where needed while maintaining what we need to spur long-term job creation and win the future, the President will veto the bill," Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Jack Lew wrote in an Oct. 19 letter to the leaders of the appropriations committees, obtained by The Cable.

Lew wrote that Congress should not cut discretionary spending more than required by the deal struck to raise the debt ceiling, as enshrined in the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, which requires a $7 billion reduction in discretionary spending compared to fiscal 2011 levels.

"The nation needs to do more to reduce the deficit, and the President has offered a detailed blueprint for more than $3 trillion in additional deficit reduction, but disregarding the BCA agreement and cutting already-tight discretionary program levels even further would be a serious mistake," Lew said.

He then laid out a long list of programs the White House doesn’t want cut, or wants funded to the levels suggested by the Democratic-controlled Senate rather than the GOP-controlled House. For example, Lew said Congress should support full funding for the Affordable Care Act (AKA: Obamacare) and fund the Race to the Top educational program and Pell Grants at the Senate’s proposed levels.

Lew also called on Congress to support implementation of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, the Food Safety Modernization Act, and to fully fund nutrition programs for children. The Environmental Protection Agency should be funded at least to fiscal 2011 levels, he wrote.

The White House also wants Congress to know that it "strongly opposes ideological and political provisions in these bills." It defines those as any provisions that would restrict implementation of the White House’s legislative successes, undermine health or environmental issues, or "abandon settled approaches to divisive social issues."

On national security, Lew wrote that the White House supports the Senate’s version of the State and Foreign ops appropriations bill, which is about $5 billion higher than the House’s version. The White House also supports the Senate’s proposal for defense funding, which amounts to a freeze in the defense budget this year.

"The President believes that civilian and military power are inextricably linked, and that effective deployment of tools in a coordinated and flexible way is fundamental to meeting the whole of our national security priorities," wrote Lew. "The budget, therefore, must build military strength and smart civilian security programs, domestically and around the world."