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Avert the Sequester and Act Now

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

Mr. KILDEE. Mr. Speaker, there are just 3 days before $85 billion in harmful across-the-board spending cuts take effect. And here we are again, with an all-too-familiar manufactured crisis poised to strike our economy with another self-inflicted wound. Month to month, crisis to crisis, this is no way to run the world's largest economy.

Letting sequestration happen is not responsible government. The sequester was designed last year to scare Congress into responsibly reducing the deficit. It created a doomsday scenario: draconian damaging cuts--disliked by both parties--intended to force Democrats and Republicans to come up with a balanced alternative to reduce our deficit.

Sequestration cuts are not targeted to eliminate waste or unnecessary programs. Rather, they slash programs across the board, regardless of their effectiveness. This threatens our economic progress, jeopardizes our military readiness, and reduces funding for national priorities like education and medical research.

Mr. Speaker, sequestration would be devastating for Michigan and our Nation's economy. The sequester eliminates jobs at a time when Congress should be working to create them. Our country has been moving in the right direction: 35 straight months of private sector job growth; 6.1 million private sector jobs created. There's no doubt we can do more to grow our economy and the middle class, and letting sequestration happen is a giant step backward for our economy.

Economists across the political spectrum agree that letting sequestration happen will slow our economy. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimates that sequester would reduce our economic growth by a third this year alone.

Sequestration cuts affect the most vulnerable people: middle class families, seniors, students, people with disabilities, the unemployed, and those who may become unemployed if these cuts go into place. We can't pretend that these cuts are just numbers in a budget.

If sequester is allowed to happen, Michigan alone stands to lose 31,000 jobs in just 6 months. There will be 750,000 jobs lost nationally by October. Michigan schools would lose $22 million in funding, eliminating 300 teachers and aides in the classroom. An additional $20 million would be cut for educational support for children with disabilities. Head Start would be eliminated for 2,300 Michigan children. Almost 2,500 low-income students in my State would no longer receive aid to help them pay for college.

These cuts are real, Mr. Speaker. Just last week I cosponsored legislation with my Democratic colleagues to avoid the sequester, but Republicans won't even bring the bill to the floor for a vote.

The Democrats plan to avoid sequester through responsible spending cuts, increased revenues, and promoting economic growth. Our plan eliminates taxpayer-funded subsidies for big oil companies. In a time of record oil profits and $4-a-gallon gasoline, it baffles me that our country continues to subsidize companies like ExxonMobil and BP; yet Republicans are willing to pink-slip 750,000 American workers just to protect billions of dollars in handouts for these five big oil companies. It's time to end these subsidies.

There's no question that we need to cut the deficit, but we need to do it in a balanced way that protects the middle class. The Budget Control Act passed before I came to Congress reduced the deficit by more than $2.5 trillion, mainly through spending cuts. There are certainly other areas that should be cut, but we should be strategic in cutting spending to reduce our deficit. Sequestration takes the exact opposite approach. It irrationally cuts programs that have proven to be effective and are worthwhile investments.

Congress needs to act immediately in order to avert the sequester. Republican inaction threatens to leave these indiscriminate cuts in place, killing jobs, undermining public safety and first responders, and injecting more uncertainty into our markets, harming our economy.

Our Nation cannot afford any more uncertainty, obstruction, and delay. Democrats are interested in real solutions, not sequesters.

Mr. Speaker, now is the time to act.


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