Simmering Down The Sequester Talk

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - by Rep. Tom Graves

The hysteria in Washington over sequestration is both strange and amusing. The president would like us to believe that cutting just over 2 percent of our $3.5 trillion budget this year will leave kids without vaccines, meat without inspectors, planes without air traffic control and streets filled with criminals and no police to stop them. Republicans, on the other hand, are wasting time blaming President Obama for spending cuts—yes, the same man who is distinguished as the only president to run a trillion dollar budget deficit, and to do so four years in a row.

Frankly, the sequester doesn’t do much to stop the growth of spending and government. Let’s say you gain 10 pounds per year, but your 2013 resolution is to only gain 9.8 pounds. You’re not getting smaller; you’re just growing a little slower. The president has chosen to make a mini diet sound apocalyptic, even as our country is nearly $17 trillion in debt. 

From a broader view, with sequestration in effect, overall federal spending this year will still exceed what was spent in 2010. I do not remember the country being on the verge of collapse in 2010 due to a shortage of federal funding. In fact, I remember the American people sweeping Republicans into control of the U.S. House because they were appalled by the president’s gross expansion of government and mismanagement of public finances.

On average, President Obama spends $1.1 trillion more per year than President George W. Bush. Remember that the Obama Administration dramatically increased federal spending during the financial crisis. The trillion dollar stimulus of 2009 was not timely, targeted or temporary as advertised—it became the status quo. Total federal spending has never declined to pre-stimulus levels. But now, whenever spending reductions come to the fore, the president rolls out scary sounding statistics and warns of grave consequences. We must remember that these inflated funding levels were never supposed to be permanent, and to try to make them so through fear and misinformation is a betrayal of the public trust. 

The deficits and debt from the Obama years are the real danger to our country, particularly to future generations. This year we will lose $224 billion of your tax dollars in debt interest payments to China and elsewhere. That amount is nearly three times the size of the sequester, or the equivalent of what the federal government spends on K-12 education and veterans’ benefits combined. Our debt interest payments are projected increase 200% by the end of the decade. All the Obama tax increases in the world cannot solve such a terrible case of overspending.

Although the sequester shaves a tiny portion off the federal budget, most agree that the across-the-board method is unwise. It doesn’t make sense to cut valuable military programs and wasteful activities by the same percentage. We should just zero-out, or eliminate, the wasteful programs. I’ve joined House Republicans in passing two bills to make the cuts smarter and targeted, but the president and the Senate Democrats have ignored us, demanding more tax increases on top of the $600 billion plus tax hike they imposed in January. 

The American people should neither be fooled nor bullied by the president’s latest campaign to raid our wallets. You are not the problem. No one should be talking about tax increases when the government wastes $115 billion on improper payments as it did in 2011. No one should demand that you send more of your paycheck to Washington to fund the $2.2 billion federal program for free cell phones. And it is shameful for the president to say Americans do not pay their fair share when the government squanders money on overlapping projects like our 47 different job training programs and 94 different green building initiatives. There is enough federal waste to clog every toilet in Washington.

 

It would be a shame to see so much wasteful spending continue as worthy programs get hit by the across-the-board cuts. But, if the president continues to reject a smarter approach and insist on more tax increases, then sequestration will go forward. And, while it’s early yet, I predict the United States will survive the 2 percent budget cut.

 

Tom Graves, a Republican, represents Georgia in Congress and serves on the House Appropriations Committee.


Chattanooga Needs The Coolidge Medal Of Honor Heritage Center

I'm pleased and indeed compelled to let you know a bit more about the exciting and most honorable "Charles H. Coolidge Medal of Honor Heritage Center" planned for Coolidge Park.     Here's what the Heritage Center will be:  It will be a fitting capstone for Chattanooga's Coolidge Park on Northshore in downtown Chattanooga.  While this exceptional Chattanooga ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Tipping The Preacher

I got an unusual telephone call the other day from someone I love who asked my help in solving one of life’s delicate mysteries. It is a tough question: “How do you tip a preacher?” In the first place, you never tip a preacher. It’s the preacher who gives out the tips, helping to keep you on the straight-and-narrow in your quest to waltz through the Pearly Gates. But there are ... (click for more)

Preserving 90-Year-Old Grammar School Just One Of Challenges Facing Town, Signal Council Told

Rather than spend millions upgrading Signal Mountain’s historic grammar school so it can continue to house the Mountain Arts Community Center (MACC), it would make more sense to incorporate that project into a larger multi-pronged one that would solve several issues facing the community, according to town manager Boyd Veal.   For example, Mr. Veal said, the current ... (click for more)

Firefighters Put Out Fire In Compost Pile At City's Wood Recycling Center

Chattanooga firefighters were called to a fire at the city's wood recycling center on N. Hawthorne Street around noon on Sunday. Battalion Chief Don Bowman said the smoke and flames could be seen from several miles away.   Firefighters with five fire companies worked to get the blaze under control, using master streams from two aerials and some hand-held hoselines. The ... (click for more)

Chris Douglas Repeats As Waterfront Triathlon Champ

Sunday was a hot, hot day, but that didn’t keep nearly a thousand local and regional triathletes from around the Southeast from putting their best foot forward in the annual Waterfront Triathlon in downtown Chattanooga. Chris Douglas and Sara Gibson were the overall winners in the International distance race, which started with a 1.5K (.93 mile) swim, followed by a 42K (26 ... (click for more)

Prep Football Jamboree is Aug 12-13 at Finley Stadium

Highlighted by a match-up of state semifinalists in Baylor and Notre Dame, the 57th annual Prep Football Jamboree is set for Aug. 12-13 at Finley Stadium with five games each night. Baylor (10-3) reached the D-II AA semis before losing to eventual state champ Brentwood Academy, while Notre Dame (10-4) reached the D-I 3A semis before losing to eventual state champion Alcoa. ... (click for more)