Washington, D.C. — As a small gathering of Tea Party activists outside the Capitol chanted “shut it down,” federal employees who serve millions of Americans call on House Republicans to reach a sensible fiscal 2011 budget agreement that will avert a destructive government shutdown and continue to provide vital services to the country, said the leader of the nation’s largest independent federal union.
“For months, budget negotiations have stalled in Congress as House Republicans have succumbed to extreme Tea Party elements rather than coming to common sense compromises,” said Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).
“You have to be from Wonderland to believe that you can make severe cuts in government spending without sending the economy into a tailspin and cutting critical services Americans depend upon. It is time to put aside ideological stances and for Congress to agree on a budget that serves the American people.”
Yet a handful of ideologues and their political supporters gathered today to ignore the obvious negative effects and continue to push for unrealistic cuts that will result in a loss of vital services for all Americans. These cuts will mean things like longer waits for taxpayer refunds, fewer services to veterans, less assistance for people with disabilities, more threats to our clean air and water, weakened border security, significantly fewer food safety inspections, and more.
“House Republican leaders must not kowtow to extreme elements, and instead get serious about the fiscal 2011 budget negotiations,” Kelley said. “We must agree on a common sense budget that provides for our citizens while being honest about the impact of proposed cuts.”
The reality is that proposed cuts would do little to address the national deficit. Indeed, many of the proposed cuts would actually worsen the deficit by forgoing billions in revenue to address our national deficit. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) collects more than 93 percent of all of our country’s revenue. According to the IRS, the proposed cuts to the IRS budget would reduce revenue this year by at least $4 billion, in addition to undermining the public trust in the fairness of the tax system, which will negatively impact voluntary compliance with tax laws.
In addition to the proposed $600 million cut to the IRS, Tea Party elements of the Republican party support cuts of $242 million for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), $30 million for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), $345 million for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), $100 million for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) and $200 million for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration in the Department of Health and Human Services.
These proposed budget cuts would not benefit American families, but would have the opposite effect by endangering public health and cutting critical services. For example, cuts at the FDA would mean a further decline in food safety inspections, including 2,000 fewer food inspections of domestic and foreign food and medical product firms, 10,000 fewer import inspections and 6,000 fewer laboratory sample analyses of food and medical products. Food inspections dropped to only 7,500 in 2009, down dramatically from 35,000 in 1978.
NTEU represents more than 150,000 employees in 31 agencies and departments.