The Sequestration Mythby Representative Austin Scott
Posted on 2013-02-27
SCOTT of Georgia. Thank you, Mr. Westmoreland. I certainly
enjoyed serving with you in the Georgia House where we balanced the
budget on an annual basis and made cuts certainly much larger than this
on a percentage basis. Quite honestly, we did it on an annual or a
semiannual basis when we were there.
I want to point out one thing that you talked about that's not being talked about much here, and that is that the total cut that we're talking about is a little less than 2.5 percent of Federal spending. The problem with the sequester is not that it's an unreasonable amount that's being cut; it's where it's being cut from.
So here we are less than 48 hours from the President's sequester, our Commander in Chief's sequester, that's going to go into effect and set into place $1.2 trillion over the course, ladies and gentlemen, of 10 years. That's one of the things that needs to be pointed out. It's not $1.2 trillion over the course of this year; it's over 10 years. So you're talking about $100 billion a year out of a little better than a $3 trillion annual budget.
Of this cut that our Commander in Chief has insisted on, over half of that is going to come from national defense and our men and women in uniform and our civilian workforce and taking its toll on them. Our Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, I thought did a great job when he actually explained it as hollowing out our military. He told the truth about that and just what the Commander in Chief's budget reductions were going to do to our military. Obviously, we have a new Secretary of Defense coming in now, and I can't help but wonder if Secretary Panetta speaking out about what those cuts were going to do to the military isn't one of the things that maybe led to his replacement.
On October 22--just to give you a couple of specifics--in his campaign for election as our Nation's Commander in Chief, the President promised that his sequestration ``would not happen.'' The President, the Commander in Chief, promised that it would not happen. He went to great lengths to assure Americans that are working in our military and on our military bases, our civilian workforce--I represent Robins Air Force Base--he told them this will not happen. He told our defense contractors to not comply with the law and actually issue the notices that were required under the law that furloughs and layoffs may be coming.
I personally think it was politically motivated, but that's just a personal stance of mine, Mr. Speaker.
On February 6, I asked the President for a solution. I sent a letter. I've got the letter right here. I'm sure that somebody at the White House got it. We have never gotten any response from any letter that we have sent to the White House as a Member of Congress. We simply asked him to give us a written proposal on what he would do given his choice of having it exactly his way and replacing the sequester. Again, no response, no action.
On February 15, he came to our State, Georgia, and didn't go to any of our military installations. We have seven major military installations and over a dozen major military communities in the State of Georgia. He went to a county and he talked about expanding the role of the Federal Government in public education as we were approaching the sequester. The men and women at Robins Air Force Base and the other bases were left wondering what was going to happen to their paycheck. He did not even address the issue while he was in Georgia with our seven major military installations and our 12 major military communities.
Mr. Speaker, I didn't vote for the sequester, but what I'll tell you is I'm reminded of what Teddy Roosevelt said when I look at the national debt and the things we're facing right now: The best thing to do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing is nothing.
We have to cut Federal spending or we're going to rob the next generation of Americans of the American Dream.
So I would say that here we are as a House having passed two separate bills to undo the President's sequester and 48 hours prior to the sequester going into action, and all we've heard from the President is just words. He hasn't had the guts to put a proposal in writing before this House for the American people to see. Here we are, Mr. Speaker, at the 11th hour with no action from the President, no response to my letter or any other Member's letter, to my knowledge, no plan to Congress, no plan to America. He's just a President, a Commander in Chief that's willing to let this happen to our military. Half the cuts are coming from our military. What kind of Commander in Chief do we have? Congressman, I appreciate the opportunity to speak today and thank you so much for doing this.
House of Representatives, Washington, DC, February 6, 2013.
Dear President Obama: As the representative of the Eighth Congressional District of Georgia, home to Robins and Moody Air Force Bases and a member of the House Armed Services Committee, I am very concerned about the impact that sequestration will have on our national security. As you are aware, on March 1, 2013, $500 billion in defense cuts will go into effect unless a law is enacted to prevent it. According to many of our nation's top military leaders, the indiscriminate cuts caused by sequestration would hollow out our forces and severely degrade our military capabilities.
On October 22, 2012, you promised that ``sequestration will not happen.'' You went to great lengths to reassure Americans that you would work to prevent it, and you even urged defense contractors not to issue layoff notifications required under law. Given your role as our nation's Commander in Chief, I believe that you share my concern over a hollowed military force. However, without your leadership I am fearful that a solution will not be reached.
We in the House of Representatives passed several bills during the 112th Congress, including H.R. 3662 and H.R. 5652, that would repeal the sequester. Based on your statements, you do not support these bills, yet have offered no alternative. Furthermore, representatives from your Administration were highly ambiguous in explaining your plan for preventing sequestration cuts. In a hearing on August 1, 2012 Acting OMB Director Zients testified that your plan to address sequestration was your 2013 budget proposal. Yet this is not a real proposal Congress could act upon, and your budget did not receive a single vote in either the House or the Senate.
We are running low on time to address sequestration and your administration's lack of meaningful action is concerning to many of my constituents. I urge you to take a more active role in resolving these senseless cuts to our national defense. I look forward to your response and to reviewing a detailed and concrete proposal that Congress can act on so that we can cooperate in a bipartisan manner to resolve sequestration.
Sincerely, Austin Scott, Member of Congress.