U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Ranking Member of the Senate Budget Committee, issued the following statement today as the sequester was set to take effect:
"What we are witnessing now from this White House is perhaps the most cynical behavior I have seen during my time in Washington. Replacing the sequester would require the President to save $85 billion out of a $3,600 billion federal budget. One would think that any President would leap at the opportunity to make government more effective and responsive. But what does the President do instead? He says Republicans are "cutting vital services for children' in order to "benefit the well-off and well-connected.' This has been the strategy now for years: block any attempt to reform the government and then relentlessly attack the reformers. Does any lawmaker, reporter, or citizen believe that the only way to save taxpayer dollars is to hurt children, that every government program is effective and helpful and not one penny is wasted?
While the White House operatives may think this attack is clever, it betrays an astonishing elitism: the federal government is perfect and requires no reform. That is why they have no plan to make our government leaner and more efficient. The President had 18 months to develop reforms to improve the government, but instead he announced furloughs of federal workers as a political cudgel. Yet, his golf weekend at the yacht club with Tiger Woods cost taxpayers over a million dollars--enough money to save 341 federal workers from furlough.
These workers know firsthand how much waste and inefficiency exists in the government. Our Budget Committee office will look for a way to solicit federal employees to send suggestions for how to save money in their departments, agencies, and divisions. What is better? To furlough someone or to empower them to make their office more efficient?
Now, we learn that the President is going to submit his budget plan--which contains his recommendations to Congress, the reason the law requires it to be submitted early in February before our budget work begins--on March 25th. Yet he will be submitting it after the House and Senate have produced a budget proposal and adjourned for Easter. So while the President speaks of his deep concern for American workers and families, he fails to even submit to Congress his financial plan to help those workers and families. Why then doesn't the President furlough his entire 500-person staff at the Office of Management and Budget instead of threatening teachers and law enforcement personnel? The budget deals with more than just deficits. It is the chief executive's plan for American prosperity. What does it mean that he doesn't want to lay that out? He is the CEO of the Executive Branch and every cabinet official and government employee answers to him. It is his duty to the American people to be the person advancing reform, not blocking it.
Also at issue is the fact that our massive federal government is, right now, creating poverty and hurting families. Look at cities like Baltimore, Chicago, and Detroit. Raising taxes--instead of reforming government--denies struggling Americans the help they need. There is nothing just or virtuous about protecting a stale welfare state that is failing the people it is supposed to help. President Obama is defending the bureaucracy at the expense of the people.
It is time for the President to end the permanent campaign and work with both parties to make this government work better."