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Thursday
Feb142013

Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter - Stop the Sequester

This is chapter twelve of “The Sky is Falling,” authored by Democrats in the House and Senate who opposed the 2011 Budget Control Act and the threat of the sequester it brought about. They warned that the economy would falter if the sequester came to pass. The Republicans, who hold the majority in the House, warned that the economy would fall if America did not pass a dramatic austerity program.  Their tea party members refused to raise the debt ceiling unless there were what they considered to be appropriate cuts to spending and what Democrats considered to be draconian cuts to spending. As America hung on the verge of default, and the tea party in the Republican Caucus refused to yield, the Democratic majority in the Senate and President Obama agreed to the Budget Control Act.

The deal was that there would be a “supercommittee” that would find the spending cuts, but if they could not compromise, the deep cuts would be spread equally between defense and domestic programs.  Everyone just knew, just was positive, that the unthinkable would never happen, that Republicans would blink on defense and Democrats would blink on drastic cuts to everything else, and that there would be compromise.  But there wasn’t, and now the sky might actually fall right on our nation’s economic recovery.  Last quarter is the first time that the nation’s economy has shrunk in almost 40 months, and the reason is the impending sequester, with its deep and irrational cuts that require lay-offs, slow-downs and freezes. When you demand that the federal government spend at least 9% less across-the-board this year, and you don’t even have specific targets, you will have a lot of unintended and unwelcome consequences, ranging from defense to medical research to education to transportation programs, etc.  Those politicians who kept insisting that the government does not create jobs now have to watch their friends, family, and constituents who work for the government or rely on federal contracts face lay-offs, and they will see companies lose business and profits. The consequences of deep cuts are upon us.

The Defense Department has been sounding the alarm more than other Departments. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been going before Congress—the very ones who created this mess—and talking about the damage the sequester will do.  In a letter to Senator John McCain, the Ranking Member of the United States Senate Committee on Armed Services, Secretary Panetta wrote, “Such a large cut, applied in this indiscriminate manner, would render most of our ship and construction projects unexecutable—you cannot buy three quarters of a ship or a building—and seriously damage other modernization efforts. We would also be forced to separate many of our civilian personnel involuntarily, and, because the reduction would be imposed so quickly, we would almost certainly have to furlough civilians in order to meet the target.”  Panetta goes on to say that this would “seriously damage readiness.” What he is talking about here is national security and jobs.  Is anyone listening yet?  Everyone knows there are savings to be had in the Department of Defense, but we should target those cuts so we do not jeopardize security or jobs.

While Secretary Panetta is warning the country about our national security, the sequester is threatening other programs and jobs.  The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office says in a report that sequestration would be “deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions.”

We need to stop this impending sequestration. We need to find a compromise that allows us to gradually reduce spending, while we find revenue from closing loopholes, reforming the tax code, and going after waste, fraud, and inefficiency.  There are other suggestions as well.  We could add a public plan to the health insurance exchanges. We could require the government to negotiate the price of prescription drugs for Medicare Part D.  We could raise the cap on Social Security.

But there is very little action on Capitol Hill to do just that.  Even if we wanted to discuss it, we cannot, because the House is not actually in Washington, DC very often these days.

Sequester will hurt our economy in New Hampshire.  It will hurt our national economy.  It will lead to lay-offs, and it will create more misery for the middle class and the poor. Congress has spoken.  Now they need to listen.  It is time to stop the sequester and create a viable plan that reduces spending gradually and keeps the economy growing.

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Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter represents New Hampshire’s First District. She previously served the District from 2007-2011, and she was reelected in the November 2012 election. The Congresswoman is again serving on the House Armed Services Committee and the Natural Resources Committee.

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Reader Comments (4)

Ohhhhhh Carollllll!
Enjoy your ride to the bottom of the trillion dollar deficit toilet bowl. Spend the last dollars like it's 1999!
– C. dog singin' his ode to a Grecian Urn
February 15, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog
We really need to redefine the meaning of the word conservative. What was conservative about exploding the debt under Reagan/Bush and George W Bush? Two wars on a credit card and now there are complaints that we spent too much. So what do we do? We give hundreds of billions to banks. We allow corporations to avoid 100 billion in taxes annually and conservatives say let the seniors and children live in poverty. Wake up C. dog, European countries tried austerity, and their economies are doing poorly compared to ours. Japan and many other countries have a debt to GDP ratio much higher than ours and they are surviving. If conservatives will get out of the way on the green economy, our GDP will be much higher. That will make our debt ratio lower. Frank Guinta voted for this sequester situation to happen and got our debt rating down graded. Thank goodness we have Carol back. She looks out for real people versus corporate people like Frank did.
February 16, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSeacoast Patriot
"Seacoast Patriot" has it right. "Investment" isn't another word for spending; it's exactly what it means -- investing in ourselves. Dollars invested on green energy and others aspects of a green economy pay back many times. Money invested on education -- elementary through college -- pays back immensely through higher incomes, more inventive technology, and an economy that can compete with other nations. Funds invested in health care for Americans makes America stronger -- and Americans healthier -- as we face the challenges of an uncertain world when all of us need to be strong to take on those unknowns.

To often, conservatives -- the right-wingers and Tea Partiers especially -- look at immediate reward, and that reward is usually considered by them to be how to avoid their responsibilities toward others, or to their community, state, and nation. Not always, but too often. That self-centeredness has to end if we're to become the greater nation and people that can be our destiny.
February 17, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJim Splaine
Tru dat, Jimbo. Invest in Mr. Green; he good, Bush bad. Pray to Nanny's BFA that she may peel off her velvet glove and bring to bear her gnarled knuckled (look ma, alliteration, or not?) fist to force the plebes to "invest" in pixie dust solutions, like ... oh, how 'bout the Grate Northern Pass? Or 350' whirlybirds affixed atop the decapitated Old Man who now rests shattered in Franconia Crotch? Ooops, they can't do that, might upset Ted Kennedy's view from his "huntin' cabin".

But think of the Chilt'ren, Jimbo and Seacoast Pap-rot: they'll need all these green machines so they can stare blankly at their screens from dawn till dusk knowing that their petite carbon footprint barely makes an impression ... just like the Government-issue mush balanced precariously above their rounded shoulder as they look on in amazement at how much more debt their mighty BozObama the Clown and his Insane Clown Possé piled on to the now relatively small, but inane nation building that rose from the Burning Bush.

But rejoice my fair-weather fawns. Your mighty troubadour – The People's Investors – are redeploying e-monies at frenetic pace of Greek Mythology. And like all fairy tales, they come to their fairy end, the book is closed, and reality hits like a ton of bricks. But not to fret. You have the legacy of your cherished investments: the chilt'ren watching whirlybirds go round and round on their i-this and i-that as the repo-man packs up the physical world about them. Enjoy!
– C. dog harvesting the fruits of government investments
February 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterC. dog

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