Washington has had more than a year to prepare for the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester. For months, Congressional Republicans have been warning of the effects that these cuts could have on our national security.
What few people realize is the sequester was actually President Obama’s idea. The president proposed sequestration and insisted it become law. For months now I have been attempting to get the White House to comply with, and provide key details about the sequester’s impacts after the president signed into law, my Sequestration Transparency Act. This bill required the administration to provide a detailed plan to the American people on the impacts of the sequester by September of 2012, nearly six months ago. After ignoring the law and failing to plan for the sequester’s impact, the White House conveniently waited until the eleventh hour to issue media propaganda on the potential state-by-state impacts of the sequester.
After releasing these reports and traveling on a 5,000 mile campaign-style road show ginning up fear about the calamitous effects of the sequester, the president and his allies would have you believe that the only way we could prevent these across-the-board cuts is by once again raising taxes on hardworking Americans. While I believe there are better ways than these across-the-board cuts to reduce federal spending, tax increases are not the answer and I think it is important to put the sequester into perspective. Not only has the federal government had four straight years of trillion dollar-plus deficits, but federal spending has also increased by nearly 20 percent since 2008. It seems to me that Washington should be able to absorb a 2.4 percent spending reduction to the overall $3.6 trillion budget in a smart and efficient manner. In fact, 2.4 percent, or about $85 billion, is the amount of money the federal government borrows every 28 days. Even with the sequester, federal spending is projected to increase over last year.
I understand that certain programs important to many South Dakotans will be affected by sequestration. Again, I prefer to find alternative savings to replace the sequester, or at the very least, supported providing the administration with some flexibility to implement the sequester in a more targeted way. House Republicans twice voted to replace the sequester with targeted, alternative savings. In the Senate, I supported bipartisan legislation ensuring that priorities vital to our national security were protected from the president’s sequester by instead targeting waste, fraud, and inefficiencies across the federal government. However, the president and his congressional allies have demonstrated that they are not interested in making smart, targeted reforms or flexibility to implement the sequester, but instead are playing politics to ensure that when the cuts are enacted they can continue their attempts to dodge responsibility.Rather than raiding taxpayers’ wallets to pay for wasteful government spending by imposing higher taxes, which the president continues to demand, we ought to be looking for ways to stop wasting taxpayer dollars and reduce government spending in a targeted way. It is time for Congress to start making spending reforms that grow the economy and create jobs.