July 31, 2014

Sen. Johanns disputes White House dire warning about sequester cuts (AUDIO)

Obama Administration officials have released a list of federal budget cuts that would affect Nebraska should the so-called sequester go into effect Friday, but Sen. Mike Johanns questions the cuts.

Johanns has little doubt that the sequester will go into effect. No talks have been taking place in Washington.

A total of $1.2 trillion in federal budget cuts over the next 10 years are scheduled to go into effect unless Congress steps in and stops the cuts. The total for this year would be $85 billion.

A breakdown in talks to reduce the federal budget deficit in 2011 triggered the automatic budget cuts, split evenly between domestic and defense budgets.

Johanns makes a point that an $85 billion cut would be a very small piece of the federal budget, which spends nearly $4 trillion annually.

“But, what I am worried about is that the White House doesn’t want to cut spending,” Johanns tells Nebraska Radio Network. “They’ve been fighting that for four years now and I’m just worried they’re going to make this as painful as they possibly can.”

The White House released a list of proposed budget cuts for each state[White House PDF, listing Nebraska cuts]. The administration states that Air Force operations in Nebraska will suffer a $15 million cut and that 4,000 civilians in Nebraska who work for the Defense Department will be laid off.

Johanns suggests that the administration give each department the flexibility to handle the budget cuts. Johanns, a former Secretary of Agriculture, says the departments would be able to lessen the pain of the cuts.

Johanns acknowledges the sequester makes it more difficult, because of its blunt-edged ax approach, cutting indiscriminately across-the-board.

Flexibility would allow the federal departments to lessen the pain of the cuts, according to Johanns.

“This is a very small part of the overall budget over the next decade.”

He says it would not be easy, but manageable.

AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:45]