The much hyped sequester goes into effect on March 1 and many Iowans are wondering how the budget cuts will affect them. President Obama is back in campaign mode, trying to scare Americans and shift the blame to the House Republicans. However, the cuts he is now condemning were the brainchild of the Obama White House.
“No one thinks the sequestration situation is ideal. Remember, the proposal came from the White House,” Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said on Tuesday. “Also, the sequester amounts to cutting two percent out of the federal budget. Not very many Americans would say that the federal government can’t find two percent to cut out of all federal spending.”
According to the White House, if the sequestration cuts go into effect, areas that will see cuts in Iowa include education, the military, public health and meals for seniors. That information comes from the Office of Management and Budget, which also claimed the sequestration would cut $2 million from the National Drug Intelligence Center. Somehow, the OMB missed the news that the center ceased operations on June 15, 2012.
Despite Obama’s scare tactics about the plan he devised and signed into law in 2011, the actual size of the budget cuts are minimal. The sequester will slice only $85 billion from a $4 trillion budget in fiscal year 2013. Instead of offering solutions, such as making sure essential programs are not cut, Democrats in the U.S. Senate and President Obama are calling for yet another tax increase.
Not content with the tax increases they achieved in the “fiscal cliff” deal, Obama lobbied the nation’s governors on Monday to lean on their congressional counterparts to accept more tax raises. Senator Grassley has other ideas.
“Above all, it is time for Congress and the President to focus on the spending discipline needed to restore confidence among investors and job creators,” Grassley said. “In 2009 and 2010, non-defense discretionary spending increased by 24 percent. Record-level government spending didn’t fix record-level unemployment. Long-term reforms to Medicare and Medicaid are needed to save the programs and make them sustainable for taxpayers. You can’t raise taxes high enough to fix these problems and create an environment for a strong economy.”
Grassley, the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Monday, asking how the Justice Department would ensure the sequester has the least possible impact on essential services. Grassley says the Justice Department has shown little effort to make spending reductions to “non-law enforcement type offices within the department”.
“The sky-is-falling message from the Attorney General doesn’t help anyone,” Grassley said. “If the Justice Department documented how it’s figuring out what can and should be reduced could give confidence to the public and show that it’s done its due diligence for the least disruption possible to law enforcement capabilities. I’m asking the Attorney General if it plans to reduce non-mission executive use of jets, for example, which cost taxpayers more than $11 million between fiscal 2007 and 2011.”
The House of Representatives passed two different bills in 2012 that would have replaced the across-the-boards cuts of the sequester with other spending reforms. The Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate refused to take up the bills and has failed to offer any plans of their own. The Senate, and President Obama, have had plenty of time to act. This is a problem of their own making, but they’re telling Americans that only tax increases can solve it.
“Until recently, the President was threatening to veto legislation to alter the sequester,” Grassley said. “There’s been no regular-order effort to alter it in the Senate. Now, there’s very little time before the sequester takes effect.”
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