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Mr. WEST. I want to thank my colleague for allowing me to come here.
This is not a charade. I served 22 years in the United States military, and I was part of a reduction in force coming out of Desert Shield/Desert Storm, and I know what these types of cuts will do to the military. Also, this is what these types of cuts will do to non-defense discretionary.
The sequestration will put at risk all that we have accomplished in education and weaken programs that help children, serve young families, send young people and adults to college and make the middle class American Dream possible.
Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan.
Secretary of Defense:
This mechanism of sequestration will force defense cuts that, in my view, would do catastrophic damage to our military and the ability to be able to be protect our country.
I think right now, Mr. Speaker, it's very simple. George Santayana had a quote back in the 1920s and said:
Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
At the end of World War I, we cut our military, then came World War II. At the end of World War II, we cut our military, then came the Korean War. At the end of the Korean War, we, of course, did the exact same thing, and, of course, we had to chase communism all over the world, Vietnam.
As I spoke about earlier, I participated in the RIF after Desert Shield/Desert Storm. This sequestration does one simple thing: It takes the Army and Marine Corps down to 1940s levels.
It puts 200,000 of our men and women in uniform on the streets.
It makes our United States Navy go to 1915 levels. Currently, we have a naval force of 283 warships. It goes down to 230.
It takes our Air Force down to the smallest Air Force we have had in modern history, when we created the United States Air Force. It cuts nontactical fighter squadrons.
If you talk to any of our service chiefs, if you listen to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs who talks about hollowing out this force, we should not be doing this at a time when we all see what is happening in the world right now, when the United States of America has had a sovereign piece of its territory attacked. We have had an Ambassador that has lost his life. The message that we are going to send is that we are going to do nothing?
This legislation says, very simply, we have passed a plan out of the House. The Senate, if you don't like our plan, come up with your own plan. Mr. President, you are the Commander in Chief. Come up with a plan.
One of the things that you learn as a young officer, that if you ever get into a firefight, you are ever in an ambush, to do nothing means that people lose their lives. I will not stand here and do nothing at this time because those are my friends still in uniform; those are my relatives that are still in uniform.
Now, I did not have the ability to be selected to be on the supercommittee--maybe because I have only been here as a freshman--but that does not mean that I will not be an adult and present a solution that says, very simply, If you don't like what we passed in the House, then do something. Come up with a plan.
We just heard the debate about the continuing resolution, a continuing resolution we have been forced into because we have a Senate that has not passed a budget in close to 3 years. We have a Senate that has not taken up any appropriations bills.
Well, I will tell you--and I will reach out to my colleagues from the other side--at least here in the House we have done something. But we have been forced into a position with this sequestration to say we have got to come up with a solution. The supercommittee did not meet its enacted mandate.
Does that mean we're going to stop? Does that mean that we're going to look at the men and women in uniform and say we will allow this to happen? Did that mean that we're going to look at other people that are affected by these non-defense discretionary cuts?
All I'm saying is, with this piece of legislation, those who have come up with a plan, tell us what you want so that we do not have this occur. Think about the second- and third-order effects that will come to this.
We are talking about the people that will be lost in uniform.
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Mr. WEST. No, I will not yield, so please--thank you.
We're talking about the Department of Defense civilian positions that would be lost. We're talking about the defense industrial base, the technology that is going to develop the next generation of weapons systems for our men and women that will be lost. We're talking about a critical decision for the way ahead for the United States of America.
And I understand what has been said about this balanced approach that the President sent over in his fiscal year 2013 budget. They had $1.9 trillion of new taxes, but yet it never balances at any time. If it was such a good plan, such a good budget, no one here took it up. That's my concern.
This is a last chance for us to be the adults, to do something, to stave off this sequestration. The House voted. The House sent a piece of legislation out in May. The House voted on the Sequestration Transparency Act. We still have not gotten anything.
The Director of the OMB, Mr. Jeffrey Zients, testified before the Armed Services Committee he has no plan. All he did was sit there and say that, if you guys would stop with these tax cuts not being brought up on the rich, then this would not happen.
What is a fair share when the top 1 percent pays close to 37 percent of taxes? That's not the debate, Mr. Speaker. The debate is what we're going to do about this sequestration.
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Mr. WEST. We voted to cut defense spending by $487 billion. We're talking about additional. And when you talk about raising these taxes, Ernst & Young had an independent report that talked about the adverse ramifications that will come from raising taxes.
Obviously, one thing we fail to understand, small business operators, subchapter S corps, LLCs, you're going to ruin this economy and more job losses by raising those taxes.
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