Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Billy Long on sequestration: Save defense spending, cut the entitlements

In his latest newsletter, Seventh District Congressman Billy Long offers his thoughts on sequestration.

I am sure by now you know about sequestration and the across the board spending cuts that are coming in early 2013, which would severely cut our military.

Our escalating national debt is dangerous for all Americans because it threatens our economic and national security.  As a result, we must reduce our overall budget, but dramatically reducing defense while ignoring the primary drivers of our debt, entitlement spending, is both unwise and dangerous.  We cannot balance the budget, nor should we attempt to balance the budget, by gutting core security obligations that the federal government is constitutionally responsible to fulfill.

The Budget Control Act (BCA) mandates the $1.2 trillion across-the-board spending reduction known as sequestration, which will significantly affect defense spending.  The sequestration process requires $492 billion in defense spending cuts in addition to the $487 billion already in place by the BCA.

My House colleagues and I support efforts to replace the impending sequestration with responsible spending cuts and reforms. Yet to date President Obama and Sen. Harry Reid have failed to propose a plan to replace the military budget cuts set to take place in January 2013.

If sequestration happens, it would devastate our military and impair the security of our nation.  The Department of Defense has stated that there is absolutely no room for additional cuts if it is to continue fulfilling its missions of securing our nation and preserving freedom.

In May of this year, I voted for the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act, which would make additional cuts to various programs and not enact such harsh spending reductions to our military. This would restore $78 billion in defense funding that is scheduled to end in January 2013.  The funding restoration would adhere to the House-approved Republican Budget and further reduce the deficit by $242.8 billion over ten years.  The legislation passed the House and is now awaiting further action in the Senate. 

In July, I voted for the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012requiring the president to submit a plan to Congress 30 days after the legislation becomes law on how his administration plans to implement sequestration. The report must include detailed information on what reductions the Obama administration will seek and estimates of the percentages and amounts needed to meet the sequestration.  The Senate agreed that president must provide taxpayers with information on how his administration would implement sequestration.

President Obama signed the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 into law on August 7.  The president likes to talk about the need for transparency and now is required to show the public how he plans to implement sequestration.  The president should release this detailed report around Labor Day.

My hope is that after the president releases the required report on his plans to implement sequestration, the Senate will get serious about working together with the House to replace these arbitrary cuts.  The House has offered and passed a proposal to replace the sequestration.  It is now up to Senate to offer a proposal to offset the cost of sequestration.

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