Over the past 10 years, more than $100 million in EPA grants have gone to foreign countries. The IRS spends $4 million annually to run its own full-service television studio. And I could go on.
With our national debt at $16 trillion – that’s more than $52,000 for every American – I believe these are just a few of the cuts that must be made to address our government’s serious spending problem. They’re also the type of more responsible cuts that should replace the president’s sequester that’s scheduled to go into effect on March 1.
As I noted in this column a few weeks ago, the ‘sequester’ is a series of mandatory spending cuts that was first proposed by President Obama, and eventually passed by Congress as part of the debt limit agreement of 2011. The White House insisted on the sequester to – among other things – avoid having to revisit the debt limit before the 2012 election.
Short on time to avoid a harmful default after the president blew up deficit reduction talks with demands of $400 billion in additional tax hikes, Republicans and Democrats reluctantly agreed to ‘sequester’ operating accounts for federal programs and agencies like border security, law enforcement, and the Department of Defense. The hope was that the House-Senate ‘super-committee’ could come to agreement on a more responsible package to $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction and turn off these automatic cuts.
But despite a good-faith offer by Republicans of spending-cuts and new revenue through tax reform, the super committee failed to reach an agreement. This ensured that the sequester could only be shut off by legislation passed by the House and Senate, and signed into law by the President.
Republicans have always believed that the sequester is the wrong way to cut spending – and that was reaffirmed just a few weeks ago by the Dayton Daily News when it reported ‘Wright-Patterson could impose unpaid furloughs on up to 13,000 civilian employees and a 15 percent cut in operations as part of spending reductions that could strike the Air Force.’
Knowing that Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and many other military installations across the country would face significant cutbacks under the president’s sequester, House Republicans wasted no time in acting last year. Twice we passed bills to replace the sequester with responsible cuts and reforms that protect national security, and help put America on a path to a balanced budget within 10 years.
Unfortunately, President Obama and the Democrats who control the Senate have been unwilling to work with us. And with the sequester just one week away, it’s telling that the media is calling President Obama’s efforts to reach a legislative solution ‘perfunctory,’ ‘virtually absent’ and not discernible.
Instead, the president has chosen to travel the country to campaign for more tax hikes. Never mind that he got higher taxes with ObamaCare and the fiscal cliff of 2012 – the president is obsessed with additional tax increases on the American people so he can keep spending on new ‘stimulus.’
And that gets at the real problem. ‘Too often with this White House, the solution to any challenge is ramping up campaign-style events,’ Charlie Cook of the National Journal recently wrote. ‘To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.’
More speeches aren’t going to get us any closer to a balanced budget – and the growth and expanded opportunity that will follow. And they certainly aren’t going to make the American people any more willing to accept additional tax hikes.
With time running short, it’s time for President Obama to come together with Republicans and show some real leadership on replacing his sequester with more responsible cuts. The House’s legislation would be a great place to start.
Boehner represents Ohio’s 8th District, which includes all of Butler, Clark, Darke, Miami, and Preble counties, and the southernmost part of Mercer County. He was first elected to Congress in 1990. Viewpoints expressed in these opinion pieces are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.