A Nebraska Congressman says the value of cutting the federal budget outweighs the blunt nature of the so-called sequestration.
Unless Congress steps in to stop it, $1.2 trillion dollars in automatic federal budget cuts take effect tomorrow. The cuts are spread over a 10-year period. Since the federal budget year began in October, the cut this year will total $85 million.
President Barack Obama has been campaigning, claiming that the cuts will harm a fragile economic recovery. Many of his cabinet members have issued dire warnings about the impact of the cuts. The White House has released a state-by-state breakdown of the budget cuts.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry admits it is not the best way to reduce government spending.
“This is clumsy. It is a difficult way to go about it. And, yet, at the same time, we have to reduce the overspending. This is not doing anyone any good. It is undermining our economic well-being and creating national security problems,” Fortenberry tells Nebraska Radio Network. “There is a more reasonable way to do this and you would like to think that the White House would be able to work more effectively with the Congress in getting there, but we are where we are at the moment.”
Where Washington finds itself is familiar territory, at an impasse over fiscal policy.
The sequestration is a result of failure in the past. An agreement between President Obama and House Republicans to raise the debt ceiling created a special committee of lawmakers assigned to agree to a plan to reduce the federal deficit. The sequester, or automatic across-the-board budget cuts split evenly between domestic and defense programs, hung over the deliberations. If the committee failed, the sequestration would be triggered.
It was thought that the sequestration would be so distasteful to lawmakers, it would force them to reach a deal. They didn’t. The budget cuts are set to take effect.
The biggest impact on Nebraska, according to the information released by the White House, would hit the state’s military operations. The cuts this year will likely slash $15 million from the Air Force in Nebraska, mostly Offutt Air Force Base near Omaha. The White House estimates that as many as 4,000 civilians working for the Defense Department in Nebraska could be laid off.
Other budget cuts affecting Nebraska, according to the White House, include nearly $3 million in school funding, $3.5 million in educational funding for children with disabilities, nearly $1.2 million in environmental funding, and approximately $460,000 in job search assistance money.
Though a Friday meeting between the president and Congressional leaders has been scheduled, Fortenberry doesn’t see any movement in Washington to stop the cuts from taking place.
“There are two principles here. One is the need to reduce the spending and two is the need to deliver government programs in a smarter, more effective fashion.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]