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Mark P.
Democrat WI 2

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  • Congressional Progressive Caucus Hour: Sequestration

    by Representative Mark Pocan

    Posted on 2013-02-27

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    POCAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise today on behalf of the Congressional Progressive Caucus to repeat and enhance the calls made by our colleagues today to put a stop to these disastrous spending cuts known as sequestration.

    It's been interesting. For the last 45 minutes I've listened to people from the other side of the aisle talk very passionately about their concerns on government spending, on debt, on government waste. And yet, almost not a single one of those issues is covered by what we have before us in the next 48 hours, which is sequestration.

    Sequestration is a thoughtless approach that makes irresponsible, indiscriminate cuts down virtually every single budget line. If you think there is waste with a $4 million TV station in the IRS, as one speaker said, sequestration won't stop that. If you think we have too much debt, sequestration won't stop that. If you think we have too much fraud, abuse, and waste, sequestration won't stop that.

    But what sequestration will do is have a real impact on the middle class families, not just in Wisconsin, where I come from, but across the country, and that's why so many of the people in the Progressive Caucus and Democrats have such a strong concern about what this country is facing, because of this House, this Chamber's inability to act in the next 48 hours.

    You will hear from a number of people from different parts of the country this afternoon who are going to talk about the very real impact of sequestration on their States and on their districts, and the very impact that I think the middle class is feeling that doesn't really relate to what we heard for the last 45 minutes, but relates to the very issues that people care about--education, health care and so many other areas.

    It's funny, last week I got a chance to be back home in my district, and as I talked to the people of south central Wisconsin, it's not at all what you hear talked about here in Washington, D.C. It's almost as if it was a different country, not just the District of Columbia, but a completely different country when we talk about sequestration.

    And what people care about is, how do they make sure they've got a job? How do they make sure they've got enough money to pay for the food on their table, to support their children, to provide opportunities for their families? But instead what we see is quite different with the sequestration cuts that are going to happen. There's a real impact on the middle class, and it's pending and it's looming because we can't get the people in this room to sit down and get our jobs done.

    I heard multiple stories over the last week, and just in the last 45 minutes, about how sequestration came about. I can tell you, people in Beloit and people in Barneveld and people in Baraboo and small communities across Wisconsin don't care about the finger-pointing of how it happened. They don't care that in 1985 this idea started, and it's been a bad idea. It was such a bad idea that it was agreed to last year because they thought absolutely no one would go for this idea, and now we have people arguing, don't worry; we'll fix it a month from now.

    I can tell you, in Wisconsin, we're a little different. When our check oil comes on in Wisconsin, we check our oil, and if we have to we put oil in the engine. Here in Washington, D.C., we just keep running it until the car stops and the engine breaks down, and then we all decide that we're going to somehow fix the engine, which is a much more costly process. But I guess that Wisconsin common sense doesn't happen in Washington, D.C., and it's clearly not happening in this House as we deal with sequestration.

    I have a couple of colleagues here who are going to share some stories, and then I'm going to come back and share some more stories from my area, some of the very cuts you're going to see in Wisconsin and nationwide. I'm going to share some real stories from people who, not just from my district but across the country, are talking about the impact on their lives.

    I want to share a little bit about my experience. I spent 6 years on a budget-writing committee in the Wisconsin Legislature, and I chaired that committee. And we did things in a very different way and in a very bipartisan way, something that is a foreign concept to Washington, D.C.

    First I would like to recognize one of my colleagues from the west coast. Representative Mark Takano is a fellow freshman. He represents the Riverside area of California. A teacher by profession for over 20 years, also a community college board member, so he's had a lot of experience and is recognized in our caucus as one of our foremost experts on education. But he knows the real-life impact that this is going to have on California and on his district.

    I would like to yield some of my time, Mr. Speaker, to the gentleman from California.

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