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Enterprise Ledger - Roby: Sequester Would Have Major Impact on Military

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by Kyle Mooty

U.S. Representative Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, made the trek to the Wiregrass area on Wednesday, yet managed to remain in headlines across the country.

Roby was in Enterprise as the guest speaker for the 2013 Investors Meeting of the Enterprise Coffee Geneva Economic Development Corp. The hot topic, one of particular interest to this area, was the March 1 deadline for the sequester. The sequester was born from the passing of the Budget Control Act of 2011. As part of what is known as the debt ceiling compromise, the sequester would foretell a spending reduction that will likely last throughout 2013 and beyond.

Republicans are steadfastly opposing President Obama's proposed new tax. It is believed that opposition will ensure the sequester to take effect on March 1. The result would be $85.4 billion in across-the-board cuts.

Among those arbitrary cuts included in the sequester would be $42.7 billion in defense cuts (9.4 percent). There will also be an additional 10 percent of other mandatory defense program cuts.

Roby comments to the crowd gathered at the Enterprise Civic Center made it to the pages of the New York Times on Thursday.

"Two years ago, sequester was not a word I used in my vocabulary," Roby said. "Today, it's in my nightmares. I know there's a lot of concern in this room as March 1 gets closer and closer.

"It's unconscionable to use our military men and women in uniform as a bargaining chip to raise our taxes."

Fort Rucker could lose as many as 500 student pilots and 37,000 hours of aviation training with the sequester.

Roby noted that she did not vote for the President Obama-signed Budget Control Act of 2011.

"I'm not suggesting that discretionary dollars can't be cut," Roby said. "We saved Social Security for future generations and put it on a sustainable path for the future. But, sequester was a bad idea. The President is not reminding you that it was his idea in the first place.

"The president says he has to have tax increases to head off the sequester. Well, he already got his tax increase, and now we have more cuts to the military and more cuts to the farmers. We're spending millions and millions of dollars on free cell phones, so you don't have to convince me that we have a spending problem in this country."

Roby called the cuts "unacceptable," and said she would not "sugar coat" the situation.

U.S. Representative Mo Brooks, R-Huntsville, also voted against the Budget Control Act of 2011.

According to a U.S. Army study, the sequester will hit Alabama particularly hard, costing the state $1.9 billion while affecting more than 25,000 jobs. Huntsville is expected to feel the most negative impact.

"It is our job to make the right decisions for the men and women in the uniform," Roby said. "We want the President to do what the American people elected him to do and that is to lead."

House Speaker John Boehner said, "… President Obama is ultimately responsible for our military readiness, so it's fair to ask: What is he doing to stop his sequester that would "hollow out' our Armed Forces?"

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wrote a letter on Wednesday, noting that, should the sequester come to pass, he will have to "forgo critical objectives" and "do real harm to our national security" due to the cuts.

Democrats say that Republicans are risking the sequester in order to protect "special interest tax loopholes."

The sequester would cut between $87 billion and $92 billion each year through 2021.

The sequester will also include $28.7 billion in discretionary cuts (8.2 percent) and $9.9 billion in Medicare cuts (2 percent).

According to the Washington Post, here are some of the notable line item cuts the sequester would level on an annual basis:

$4.2 billion in aircrafts purchased by the Air Force and Navy
$16 billion in military operations across all services
$7.5 billion in military research
$900 million in border security
$500 million in immigration enforcement
$500 million in airport security
$1.5 billion to NASA
$742 million to the FBI
$549 million to the federal prison system

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