U.S. Sen. Mark Begich criticized Republican and Democratic leaders as well as President Obama tonight for a lack of leadership and failure to produce a balanced deficit reduction plan that would prevent the "sequestration', or automatic budget cuts, that are set to go into effect this Friday. Begich's statement comes on the heels of a report released by The White House this evening detailing the state-by-state impact of the pending cuts.
"I share Alaskans deep frustration with Washington leaders from both sides of the aisle for refusing to work together and produce a bipartisan, common-sense solution to rein in federal spending," said Sen. Begich. "It's outrageous that because some in Washington refuse to compromise, Alaska workers, business owners, and families are left wondering what will happen next."
The White House analysis shows the military in Alaska taking deep cuts, including furloughing 5,000 Department of Defense (DOD) employees and cutting $90 million from Army and Air Force operations.
In addition to repeatedly voting to freeze his own pay and giving nearly $1 million back to the Department of Treasury from his office budget, Sen. Begich has sponsored legislation to reduce spending by eliminating several federal programs and projects, including:
* Eliminating an air defense system from the DOD budget to save $400 million (sponsored with Senators McCain and Ayotte)
* Cutting funding for unused or "orphaned" earmarks to save over $500 million (sponsored with Sen. Coburn)
* Creating a fairer and flatter tax system that will boost economic growth and reduce the deficit by $61 billion a year (sponsored with Senators Wyden and Coats).
"I have worked with my colleagues -- both Democrats and Republicans - to make significant cuts to our budget and reform our tax system and will continue to do so," said Begich. "I hope others in Washington will put politics aside and roll up their sleeves so we can get a smart, balanced budget plan on the table. It just takes a little leadership and pulling together -- just like all the dog teams racing this weekend in Anchorage."