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Penny-Wise and Pound Foolish Is No Way to Reduce The Deficit

Sending a clear signal that they're not really interested in addressing the nation's budget deficit, House Republicans voted last month to cut $603 million from the Internal Revenue Service's budget - and to give up collecting $4 billion in taxes owed.

At the same time, the bill (H.R. 1) would slash funding for services vital to women and girls at every stage in their lives, from early childhood to K-12, through their working and childbearing years and into old age. H.R. 1 would: eliminate funding for the Title X Family Planning Program, Teen Pregnancy Prevention, and Planned Parenthood; cut nutrition programs for pregnant women and their children; cut Head Start and child care funds; cut funding for job training; and cut funding to run Social Security offices, among other critical programs.

House Republican leaders argued that these devastating spending cuts are necessary to reduce the budget deficit. Not so. What would really help reduce the budget deficit is an increase in revenues. Money comes in, money goes out. That's your taxpayer dollars at work, funding our national priorities.

The Internal Revenue Service raised $2.3 trillion in revenues last year. IRS Commissioner Shulman told Congress last week that the proposed cuts would require the IRS to make "substantial, immediate cuts" to its enforcement programs and would reduce enforcement revenue this year alone by about $4 billion. So, spending $603 million to bring in $4 billion would provide $3.4 billion in net revenues.

For $3.4 billion, we could avoid the cuts to Head Start, Early Head Start, and the Child Care Development Block Grant (about $1.1 billion). And we could avoid the $2 billion cut to job training programs that are critical in preparing workers for employment in growth industries. And we could avoid the $50 million cut from the Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant. Title V-supported programs provide prenatal health services to 2.5 million women and primary and preventive health care to 31 million children each year. That would still leave about $250 million to reduce the deficit this year alone.

It's bad enough that tax subsidies for corporations and the very wealthy are protected and expanded while vital programs for women and children are on the chopping block. Now the House GOP wants to add to the deficit by making it harder for the IRS to go after tax cheats!