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Obama’s False Choice On The Sequester

Feb 26, 2013 | Blog

The so-called sequester is one of the worst ideas to ever come out of President Obama’s White House, and it has once again demonstrated Washington’s dubious talent for creating problems and its appalling inability to solve them.  

It is undeniable that America has a serious debt problem that stands at over $16 trillion and grows every day.  And it is a fact of life that the spending cuts President Obama has threatened this week – to core functions like air traffic safety and our national security, among others – are not the way to solve our debt problem.  That’s because these are not the primary sources of our debt.  It’s disingenuous of the President to present the American people this false choice: that either we leave government as big and bloated as it is, or people will have longer waits at the airport, lose safety net medical assistance or be turned away from education services.  

While we need spending reductions throughout the federal government, there is a better way to achieve our goal of deficit and debt reduction that actually focuses on the true causes of our debt.  Government is too big and destined for bankruptcy because of our long-term obligations in our entitlement programs, particularly Medicare and Social Security.  While the sequester is the topic of the day, the reality is that if we do nothing to save Medicare and Social Security for younger people like me who are decades away from retirement, the sequester will seem like child’s play in comparison to what will happen when these two vital programs go broke.  

An equally vital component of deficit and debt reduction is private sector economic growth. We will never be able to simply cut our way out of the fiscal hole that decades of Washington excess have dug us into, particularly on President Obama’s watch. But by promoting private sector growth and small business expansion, we will see more Americans enter into the middle class and become employed taxpayers, thus leading to a rise in federal tax revenues that should be used for debt reduction.  

I never liked the sequester idea in the first place, and that’s why I voted against it when it came up as part of the Budget Control Act that also raised our debt ceiling with no spending reforms of any kind. I also shared the concerns of President Obama’s last two defense secretaries that the sequester’s indiscriminate cuts to our military would be harmful to our military preparedness.  This not only threatens our security, it’s a disservice to those putting their lives on the line for our nation, and an economic burden on Florida and the rest of the nation.  

As if all this weren’t bad enough, the President has vowed to veto any measure to replace these indiscriminate cuts with more strategic spending reductions or serious long-term entitlement reform.  His only alternative is higher taxes on the American people that will kill jobs.  

Washington’s penchant for political gamesmanship over meaningful action must end. The fact that we have reached this point is a testament to the President’s failures as a leader and his inability to deal with our spending challenges.  When it comes to meeting the challenge of putting people back to work, solving our debt crisis or safeguarding our national security, he has either been wrong, unfocused or simply uninterested in finding real solutions.  

This brinkmanship is deeply irresponsible, even by Washington’s low standards. It is time for President Obama to lead America out of this manufactured crisis and toward serious spending reforms.