Flight delays among initial issues predicted in Michigan
Today, marks the first day of federal government budget cuts, referred to as “the 2013 sequestration.” No vote is required. The spending reductions automatically go into effect.
Representing just 2 percent of the national budget, the cuts equal $85 billion and are the first overall spending reductions at the national level since Barack Obama became president 49 months ago.
Technically these budget cuts were enacted in 2011, as a key component of that year's Budget Control Act. Basically, it was a deal between Pres. Obama and the Republican-controlled U.S. House to keep the federal government running, while delaying (or temporarily setting aside) spending reductions until 2013.
Even with the $85 billion in cuts, federal spending for the current year would remain higher than last year. But between 2013 and 2021, the sequester would reduce planned spending by $1 trillion. With the resulting interest savings of another $170 billion, the resulting debt reduction has been estimated at nearly $1.2 trillion.
President Obama and the White House spent much of the week warning people about the alleged life-altering effects the sequester will have on people and the economy. In Michigan, it was highlighted that travelers would face long delays at Detroit Metropolitan Airport because of cuts to air traffic budgets.
"You know, I've been in Congress for 10 years and this is the first time we've actually had cuts,” U.S. Rep. Candice Miller, R-Harrison Township, told Michigan Capitol Confidential. "But what I believe is particularly important is that, with this, we're lowering the base line. It will be at $974 (billion), which isn't where we want it, but at least it will be the first time under Obama that it's below $1 trillion.
"We've seen all of this spending, particularly the last five years. I've voted against all of this stuff, but four of the last five years we haven't had budgets,” Rep. Miller continued. “We don't do budgets anymore with this president. They just keep things going with continuing resolutions and that will be the next big thing you've be hearing about on March 27.”
Rep. Miller said members of the U.S. House expected the Democrats and the mainstream news media to characterize the cuts as devastating and that's what's happened. However, she said House Republicans are willing to withstand the negative publicity.
“I come out of Macomb County where there have been all kinds of cuts,” she said. “We've seen cuts made at the state and local levels. We knew they were going to talk about this as if it were the end of the world. But we have a $16 trillion national debt. In my opinion that's what is really hurting most people.
“This is just a 2 percent cut in the budget,” Rep. Miller continued. "If you had the whole budget in front of you, this isn't the way you'd want to do spending reductions. But we have to do this. I do believe it is a turning point. I'm telling you, this is just the start and we are going to hold firm.”
U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, said he sees the Republican-controlled U.S. House's refusal to give in on the sequester as both a turning point and a beginning point.
“I'd say that for the first time (since Obama became president) the Republicans have the Democrats on our agenda,” Walberg said. “You could say it's very limited — and it is — but people will be able to see that the Republican line is good, which it is, when we hold to it. If we don't do this now, we're never going to get back to a legitimate position.
“We know the news media, who are just lap dogs for the president, will try to make it look like the sky is falling," Rep. Walberg continued. "But we've seen that before, both with our governor and with Scott Walker in Wisconsin. We have to be strong, hold our ground, and get our message out. Then, when the sky doesn't fall and people's everyday lives continue, we have the talking points."
Sticking to the GOP sequester strategy will force the hand of Pres. Obama and the Democrats, he said.
"He (Obama) has been campaigner-and-chief the past four years," Rep. Walberg said. "Now we are finally saying, 'that's it, no farther, we're not backing down.' This should force him to come forward and be a grown up.
"I think, for the first time in 1,400 days, the [U.S.] Senate will be forced to send us a budget without a tax increase."
Wendy Day, president of Common Sense in Government, said the mainstream news media’s coverage of the sequester has been “obnoxious.”
“I think there is a big difference between what the sequester really is and the way the news media has been portraying it,” Day said. “I find the news coverage of this obnoxious. It's as though the political class keeps hoping we'll get down on bended knees and beg for a tax hike.
“It's disgusting the way they (the news media) are scaring military families and single mothers,” she said. "The Republicans in Congress need to hold their ground. If they do the right thing and not give in it will be what's best for the country and they will win in the end.”
The $85 billion in cuts are split about evenly between defense and non-defense categories.