Mr. DUNCAN of Tennessee. Mr. Speaker, before I speak about the sequester, I want to salute my colleague, the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Jones) for his earlier remarks about Afghanistan. I agree with him that we need to stop trying to rebuild the world and start putting our own country and our own people first once again. We have spent several trillion dollars over the past decade on very unnecessary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we should have brought our troops home many years ago.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak about the sequester. WMAL radio reported this morning that the administration had put out in a list of cuts which the sequestration would require that the National Drug Intelligence Center in Pennsylvania would be cut by $2 million. The only problem is that this center no longer even exists. It was closed in June of last year.
The scare tactics about the sequester seem to grow more ridiculous, more exaggerated every day. The Washington Examiner wrote, in its lead editorial yesterday, that:
It is known as the Washington Monument Strategy. Turf-protecting government executives and bureaucrats go out of their way to make spending cuts as painful as possible for as many people as possible. By applying any cuts to the very things the public benefits from most, bureaucratic infighters believe they can convince the public that every penny that goes into government is necessary.
In other words, the administration has apparently told all the Departments and Agencies to say that their most popular programs will be drastically cut, instead of reducing spending on their least popular, least necessary, most wasteful programs.
The sequester has already been reduced from $109 billion to $85 billion. This sequester is a cut of slightly over 2 percent from our almost $4 trillion budget. Many people seem to have already forgotten that the fiscal cliff deal raised taxes by $620 billion over the next 10 years on upper-income people. Then there is also the $93 billion in higher payroll taxes on all workers this year. That hike is already in effect. Then there are the taxes already coming in to pay for ObamaCare.
Columnist Mark Tapscott wrote yesterday:
The sequestration scares are the ultimate example of Washington wink-wink. Politicos from both parties warn of imminent disaster if the Federal budget is ``cut,'' even though they know government spending will be higher in 2013 even if the sequestration ``cuts'' are implemented. Put another way, the sequestration scares are lies, pure and simple. Not just bunk, not just distortions or misstatements, but lies. And every professional politician in town--Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Socialist, Independent--knows it.
Our national debt is now at a mind-boggling $16.5 trillion. It will go to over $25 trillion in the next 10 years under optimistic scenarios. The Congressional Budget Office a few days ago put out a report that said the interest on our national debt--just the interest--was going to go from $224 billion this fiscal year to an astounding $857 billion in 10 years. If we allow that to happen, Mr. Speaker, we will then not be able to pay for anything other than Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and interest on the debt.
The sequester we are talking about now is minuscule when compared to our present debt and our future pension liabilities. Our choice is simple: we can cut now or crash in the very near future.