When it comes to the sequester, President Obama is putting politics first. The President claims that sequester cuts would be “draconian,” creating major disruptions in everything from air travel to public safety to food inspections. The truth is that, even with the sequester cuts, federal spending will be slightly higher this year than last.
The sequester calls for $85 billion in spending cuts, and that is a lot of money. However, when compared to a $3.6 trillion budget, the reductions are actually relatively modest. In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office predicts actual spending this year will be reduced by $44 billion, with the remainder spread out over future years. Again, that sounds like a lot of money. But spending on the programs subject to these automatic cuts has increased by almost 15 percent since the President took office.
Listening to the President, one would think there is nothing in government upon which we could spend just a little less. How about $2.2 billion on free cell phones provided by the government? How about the $4 million taxpayers spend annually for a television studio at the IRS? How about the $1 million NASA spends each year to come up with a menu for when we live on Mars? How about the $325,000 spent developing a robotic squirrel? These are just a few examples of the many frivolous things the government spends billions on that we simply don’t need or can’t afford.
If the President were serious, he would stop the political posturing and work with Congress to replace the indiscriminate manner of the cuts made under sequestration with a more targeted approach. The House has twice passed bills to do just that. The President rejected both. Instead he wants to raise taxes for the second time in eight weeks. That’s not smart or fair.
There is no shortcut. Washington can’t tax its way out of this fiscal mess. The Federal government must live within its means. I reject the premise that a little less spending requires serious pain and suffering. That just doesn’t make sense when the government spends an excess trillion dollars it doesn’t have each year, borrowing the difference and running up a huge tab our children and grandchildren will have to pay. This debt is the real threat to our way of life.
I am willing to work with the President to make more intelligent spending cuts so we can begin reducing the deficit and paying-down the debt. I am not willing to ask my constituents to give Washington more of their hard-earned money so it can be squandered while the government spends without restraint.
It is time to make decisions. It is time to set priorities. It is time to control spending, sensibly. Then we will find out whether we really need all of the government the President thinks we can’t do without.
(Luke Messer represents Indiana’s Sixth District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes Rush County.)