We need to get our fiscal house in order. The only way to accomplish this is by getting spending under control in a responsible manner.
In an effort to cut Washington spending by a trillion dollars, President Obama proposed and agreed to drastic across-the-board cuts in 2011, known as sequestration. To avoid these automatic, members of the joint deficit reduction committee, commonly referred to as the supercommittee were tasked with cutting more than $1 trillion in deficit spending. As you may remember, the committee failed to make the necessary cuts.
The fiscal cliff agreement Congress passed to prevent a massive tax increase on the American people also included language postponing sequestration until March 1, 2013. Unfortunately, little has been done to tackle the spending issue to avoid these drastic cuts.
Now we are less than two weeks away from these automatic cuts going into effect. In addition to the impact on a national scale, we will also feel it closer to home. According to a study by George Mason University, more than 9,000 Arkansas jobs are at risk.
While I believe cutting spending is essential to putting our country on the path to fiscal responsibility, indiscriminately cutting everything is not the best policy. We don't need to take a meat cleaver to our entire budget. I am committed to holding the line on reducing government spending, but there is a more practical way to eliminate expenses that better utilize taxpayer dollars. We need to examine what programs and funds need to be cut or eliminated.
The House has already passed two bills to replace the President's sequester with more responsible spending reforms. Unfortunately, the Senate Majority Leader has not allowed a vote on either piece of legislation in the Senate. Recently, the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing to get a better understanding of the impact of sequestration where we heard from the administration officials on the impact of these cuts.
Officials confirmed these cuts would have a negative impact on our economy and national security. At the hearing I pressed the officials on veterans' benefits including TRICARE. While some cuts to some of these earned benefits will be avoided, there will be a shortfall if the sequester is not avoided.
I had hoped the President would introduce a plan to avert these draconian cuts, but in his State of the Union address he shared his idea to permanently increase taxes on Americans to delay his proposal. This is not the answer we are looking for.
The reality is soon all of our resources will be consumed by serving the debt. We can't afford that. Sequestration is not the optimal solution, but we must reduce spending. However, the cuts can, and should be done, in a smarter, targeted manner.
Americans rely on Washington to be responsible with their hard-earned tax dollars. It's clear that our nation is on a fiscally irresponsible path and it's time to roll up our sleeves and make some difficult decisions so our children can inherit a strong country.