Congressman Steve Stockman

Representing the 36th District of Texas

The Truth About Sequester

Feb 25, 2013
Editorial
Congressman Stockman's Weekly Column

You’ll be hearing a lot about “sequester” this week.

And you deserve to know the truth, how it will affect Southeast Texas and how my proposed alternative, the Stockman Smartquester, reduces more spending than Obama’s sequester without touching vital services.

Under an agreement proposed and demanded by President Obama to raise the debt ceiling in 2011, unless the White House and Congress agree on a plan to reduce federal spending by March 1, 2013, a series of small across-the-board spending cuts will take place. These broad, very shallow, cuts amount to $83.4 billion, which is just two percent of the total current budget. Even with sequester federal spending will be higher than it ever was under President Bush.

The plan was proposed by President Obama. He demanded it be part of the deal to temporarily increase the debt ceiling. He signed it into law. He once vowed he would veto Republican efforts to replace it with spending cuts targeted at waste.

And now, like Dr. Frankenstein, he’s running from his own creation, claiming a two percent cut will create “devastation” and demanding Congress agree to his terms before he’ll agree to any changes to federal spending. He is using his March 1 deadline like a time bomb.

It’s how Obama has governed since he took office. He constructs bad policy, gives it a deadline and refuses to negotiate or compromise. When the deadline is near, then he claims his opponents are pushing the country into a crisis and they must agree to his terms to stop the
crisis (which he created.) He is helped every step of the way by a compliant national media.

Not happy with just creating bad policy, Obama is also falsely claiming the tiny cuts will force the government to lay off local police officers and firefighters.

That’s flat-out untrue. Not only are the cuts so tiny they can be taken entirely out of wasteful programs, what gets cut will be decided by Executive Branch officials, of which Obama himself is the Chief Executive. He can tell officials what to cut to meet his own sequester terms.

Former White House adviser Peggy Noonan calls it "government-by-freakout." It’s irresponsible and childish from a White House that once accused Republicans of “hostage taking.” And it
must stop.

Even The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, a reliably liberal voice who exposed Richard Nixon’s Watergate scandal, is fed up with Obama claiming Republicans proposed sequester and refuse to compromise. In a Sunday column Woodward writes:

“My extensive reporting for my book ‘The Price of Politics’ shows that the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of [White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew] and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors…Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).”

Republicans only agreed to include Obama’s sequester because he made it clear he would not compromise or agree to a deal, allowing the country to “go over the fiscal cliff” and max out its
borrowing unless Congress agreed to automatic spending cuts – with the intention of using the panic that would create to give him leverage in agitating for higher taxes.

Republicans have passed two different bills replacing Obama’s sequester cuts to vital services with cuts to wasteful programs. But Senate Democrats refuse to hold a vote on passing them and are working with Obama to push the nation into sequester so they can exploit the panic.

Woodward calls out Obama for falsely claiming Republicans won’t compromise, and for exploiting the crisis he created for political gain:

“..the final deal reached between Vice President Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in 2011 included an agreement that there would be no tax increases in the sequester in exchange for what the president was insisting on: an agreement that the nation’s
debt ceiling would be increased for 18 months, so Obama would not have to go through another such negotiation in 2012, when he was running for reelection. So when the president asks that a substitute for the sequester include not just spending cuts but also new revenue, he is moving the goal posts.”

Under Obama’s sequester, programs vital to Southeast Texas could bear the brunt of spending cuts, even though there is plenty of waste that should be eliminated instead.

Obama could again seek cuts to NASA, along with denying funds for port security and dredging and holding up federal permits for logging and gas and oil exploration.

The Obama administration has also announced they are willing to shut down Beaumont’s regional airport to meet the spending cuts, rather than take the cuts out of bloated federal payrolls or idle “stimulus” programs.

Obama wants sequester because he can make spending reform traumatic by cutting vital services and first responders, instead of waste and welfare, to make the issue toxic to voters.

Obama also wants sequester so he can focus his cuts on his political opponents, while rewarding his political cronies by shielding them from spending reform.

That’s reckless, irresponsible and no way for an adult to govern.

Instead, I proposed Friday the “Stockman Smartquester” alternative.

The Stockman Smartquester saves even more money, $84 billion from just five programs, without touching essential services. Not only does the Stockman Smartquester save even more money than Obama’s blunt sequester cuts, it cuts spending without touching critical programs
like police, schools and NASA.

First, we eliminate the government’s “free cell phone” plan that has ballooned into the ObamaPhone giveaway, 41 percent of which goes to people not even eligible. That’s $2.2 billion in savings

Then, we eliminate ObamaCare’s “Public Health Slush Fund,” which even Democrats agree needs to be done. That’s $10 billion in savings

Then, we require food stamp recipients, the numbers of which have exploded under Obama, to actually be eligible for food stamps, saving $26 billion.

We also eliminate, and require repayment of, overpayments for ObamaCare exchange subsidies. That’s $44 billion in savings

Finally, we eliminate Obama’s “renewable energy” fund in the Energy Department, notorious for financing failed projects connected to Obama campaign donors. That saves you $1.8 billion.

That’s $84 billion in savings, meeting the terms of Obama’s $83.4 billion in sequester cuts without touching vital services or harming Southeast Texas.

Clearly you don’t need to target police officers and airports to find just two percent to cut. President Obama’s hysterical press conferences are intended to mislead you and create fear.

Will President Obama agree to the Stockman Smartquester? Or will he continue to push bad policies on timelines and use the ensuing panic to engage in destructive and childish theatrics?

It’s time for the President to lead.