Congress begins budget battle over automatic cuts to Pentagon spending

John Dimsdale May 7, 2012

Jeremy Hobson: Congress is back in session today, and the first order of business for Republicans on the House Budget Committee will be to try and prevent automatic spending cuts at the Pentagon by making cuts to social safetynet programs.

Our Washington Bureau Chief John Dimsdale reports.

John Dimsdale: The Republican spending plan targets food stamps, health reform and state-run social service programs.  Such cuts have no chance in the Senate, where Democrats hold sway.

But the American Enterprise Institute’s Kevin Hassett calls today’s budget bill the opening pitch in a long baseball game.

Kevin Hassett: We’re beginning to see the first steps in the negotiation which many people are calling taxmaggedon. 

Lots of tax cuts expire at the end of the year. And, the debt ceiling will have to be raised.

Hassett: With all those things set to happen, there’s going to be the mother of all negotiations and it’s probably not going to be completed until December.

After voters have had their say on the next president and control of Congress.

The ISI Group’s Andy Laperriere says the GOP also wants to head-off next year’s automatic across the board spending cuts.

Andy Laperriere: The Republicans are uncomfortable with the size of the cuts in defense, so they’re trying to offer an alternative. 

And if there’s a tie at the end of the negotiations, we go into extra innings.

In Washington, I’m John Dimsdale for Marketplace.

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