Military-Crippling Sequester Must Be Stopped

Military-Crippling Sequester Must Be Stopped

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By Reps. Buck McKeon and Paul Ryan

Last year, as the federal government approached a limit on how much it could legally borrow, the Obama administration asked Congress to rubber-stamp an increase in the government’s borrowing authority without any spending cuts to match.

When House Republicans made clear that any increase in the debt limit must be accompanied by an even greater amount of spending reduction, the President insisted that he would not accept a debt-limit deal that did not include large tax increases on American families and businesses.

All of this work was made more difficult by the Senate’s failure to pass any budgets at all in 2010 or 2011. Nevertheless, both parties were eventually able to come together and avoid defaulting on the government’s obligations.

We succeeded in protecting hardworking taxpayers by securing a debt-limit increase that contained zero tax hikes.

Instead, we established caps on spending for government agencies, saving roughly $1 trillion over the next decade.

And we established a Joint Select Committee in Congress tasked with producing at least $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction. This “supercommittee” was backstopped by an automatic, across-the-board spending cut known as a sequester.

This sequester was never intended to be policy. It was meant to be something both parties wished to avoid, in order to motivate members of the supercommittee to work together.

Despite a good-faith effort to avoid the sequester, the supercommittee’s negotiations broke down over fundamental differences in visions for our nation’s future.

In our view, we shouldn’t be taking more from hardworking Americans to fix Washington’s mistakes. Instead, we should be solving the problem with structural reforms to our entitlement programs to make them strong and sustainable.

Leading Democrats have a different view, and the supercommittee was unable to do its work. As a result, the 2013 sequester is scheduled to impose a $109 billion, across-the-board, inflexible, and arbitrary cut in spending on January 2, 2013.

There is strong bipartisan agreement that the sequester is bad policy and should be replaced.

Sequestration would have a crippling effect on our Armed Forces. Although defense spending accounts for less than 20 percent of the federal budget, half of the deficit reduction efforts to date have come out of defense.

Obama administration officials have testified that sequestration could break the back of a military stretched thin by three years of cuts and ten years of war.

Sequestration would force the greatest Armed Forces in history to its knees, resulting in the smallest Army since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1916, and the smallest Air Force in our history.

We would risk ceding our special role in world affairs to countries such as Russia and China, who are both vastly expanding their military power.

We would risk breaking faith with our all-volunteer military, reneging on sacred promises made to care for the health and well-being of our troops and our veterans.

We would risk the gains made against global terrorism and risk our ability to prevent another September 11th attack.

And we would tacitly accept what our military leadership calls an extraordinary and unacceptable degree of danger in a strategically uncertain and perilous time.

In addition to this threat to our national security, the sequester would also impose deep cuts to programs like the National Institutes of Health and border security, squeezing critical priorities while letting entitlement spending remain on autopilot.

This week, the House is taking action to avoid these dire results by replacing the sequester with common-sense spending reductions that members of both parties should be able to support.

For instance, we propose to stop waste in the food-stamp program by ensuring that individuals are actually eligible for the taxpayer benefits they receive. That shouldn’t be a partisan issue. That’s common sense.

Another issue: We all believe in a strong federal workforce. But federal workers are currently receiving retirement benefits that are far out of line with those received by their private-sector counterparts. Our proposal simply asks federal workers to share more equitably in the cost of their retirement benefits.

The reforms we’re advancing this week will also save billions of taxpayer dollars by prohibiting future bailouts for “too big to fail” institutions. We need to be ending the concept of “too big to fail,” not enshrining it with a permanent bailout fund.

These savings will replace the arbitrary sequester cuts and lay the groundwork for further efforts to avert the spending-driven economic crisis before us.

Unless we act, the sequester will take effect. We do not believe this is in the national interest, and the President claims that he agrees. There is no reason why we cannot work together.

House Republicans are bringing specific proposals to the table. If the Democrats mean what they say, it is time for them to work with us to spare our troops from the consequences of Washington’s failures.

McKeon of California serves as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Ryan of Wisconsin serves as Chairman of the House Budget Committee.

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House Budget Committee Mark-Up: Reconciliation and Replacing the Sequester

Chairman Paul Ryan – Opening Remarks, As Prepared for Delivery

 

Welcome to today’s mark-up. Today, this Committee meets to advance sensible spending restraints and to reprioritize savings called for under the Budget Control Act.

Last year, as we were coming up on the debt ceiling, the Obama administration asked Congress to rubber-stamp a blank-check increase in the federal government’s borrowing authority. Then the President insisted that he would not accept a debt-ceiling deal that did not include large tax increases on American families and businesses. All of this work was made more difficult by the Senate’s failure to pass any budgets at all.

Nevertheless, both parties came together to avoid defaulting on the government’s obligations. We succeeded in protecting hardworking taxpayers by securing a debt-limit increase that contained zero tax hikes. Instead, we established caps on discretionary spending, achieving a minimum of approximately $917 billion in savings over ten years.

And we established a Joint Select Committee to produce at least $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction, backstopped by an automatic sequester. Despite a good-faith effort to avoid the sequester, the Committee’s negotiations broke down over some very fundamental differences in visions for our nation’s future.

In our view, we shouldn’t be taking more from hardworking Americans to fix Washington’s mistakes. Instead, we should be solving the problem with structural reforms to our entitlement programs to make them strong and sustainable.

We couldn’t get agreement on those core principles, so the 2013 sequester is scheduled to impose a $109 billion across-the-board, inflexible, and arbitrary cut in spending on January 2, 2013.

Despite our differences, we again find ourselves in strong bipartisan agreement that the sequester is bad policy and should be replaced. The 10 percent across-the-board cut in defense spending from the sequester would quote, “hollow out” our national defense. Those aren’t my words. That is how the Secretary of Defense describes it.

The 8 percent across-the-board cut in non-defense discretionary spending from the sequester would “inflict great damage on critical domestic priorities.” Those aren’t my words. Those words come from the President’s budget.

That’s why this committee and this House passed a responsible budget and why we’re here today to meet our legal and our moral obligations to lead. Six House committees have reported legislation that would replace the sequester with common-sense spending reductions that members of both parties should be able to support.

The legislation before the committee today does five key things:[list type="arrow"] [li]

  • First, it stops fraud by ensuring individuals are actually eligible for the taxpayer benefits they receive. For instance, we propose to stop fraud in the food-stamp program by ensuring that individuals are actually eligible for the taxpayer benefits they receive. That shouldn’t be a partisan issue. That’s common sense.
  • Second, we eliminate government slush funds and stop bailouts. This reconciliation bill saves billions of taxpayer dollars by eliminating the Dodd-Frank-created “too-big-to-fail” bailout fund. We need to be ending the concept of “too big to fail,” not enshrining it with this explicit guarantee.
  • Third, it controls runaway, unchecked spending. It does this mainly by re-examining some very unwise spending choices that were made by the White House and the last Congress in passing the stimulus and health care laws. For example, take the health law’s “CO-OP” program, which disburses government subsidized loans. According to the Office of Management and Budget – not us, but OMB – 50 percent of these loans will never be repaid.
  • Fourth, it restrains spending on government bureaucracies. Look, we all believe in a strong federal workforce. But workers in the private sector are being asked to share more equitably in the cost of their retirement benefits, and federal workers need to do the same.
  • Finally, it gets rid of wasteful and duplicative spending. I’m sure our friends on the other side will talk a lot today about the Social Services Block Grant, but what they won’t tell you is that the missions of this outdated block grant – which was created in 1956 – are currently being duplicated by dozens of newer federal programs. Taxpayers deserve better than to see their money wasted on duplicative federal programs that never end simply because ending them would take turf away from some bureaucracy.

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These savings will replace the arbitrary sequester cuts and lay the groundwork for further efforts to avert the spending-driven economic crisis before us. Unless we act, the sequester will take effect. I do not believe this is in the national interest, and the President claims that he agrees. There is no reason why we cannot work together to replace the sequester.  House Republicans are bringing specific proposals to the table, and we invite the administration to do the same.

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Ryan Statement on Advancement of Responsible Spending Restraints and Reforms

House Budget Committee passes legislation to reprioritize sequester savings

 

WASHINGTON – Following the House Budget Committee’s successful passage of the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act and the Sequester Replacement Act, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin issued the following statement:

“Both parties agree that the across-the-board sequester set to take effect this coming January is bad policy, would devastate our military, and should be replaced with more sensible savings. But only one party has put forward a specific proposal to do just that. Today, I am proud to join my colleagues on the House Budget Committee in advancing legislation to replace the arbitrary sequester cuts with reductions in lower-priority spending while laying the groundwork for further efforts to avert the spending-driven economic crisis before us. Over the next decade, the reforms advanced today achieve over 400% of the first year sequester savings – replacing temporary, arbitrary cuts with lasting, permanent reforms.

“Unless we act, the sequester will take effect, and a 10 percent across-the-board cut in defense spending would ‘hollow out’ our national defense, according to Defense Secretary Panetta. I do not believe this is in the national interest, and the President claims that he agrees. Our military families and hardworking taxpayers deserve a responsible replacement of the looming sequester, and this legislation does so by making common-sense spending reductions. House Republicans are bringing specific proposals to the table with reforms to focus spending on important priorities while cutting indefensible government waste and duplication. It is time for the President and his party’s leaders in the U.S. Senate to do the same.”

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  • Arguman

    What a load of bullshit