U.S. Sen. Mike Johanns (R-Neb.) today voted for legislation giving Cabinet agencies and the Administration the ability to make responsible spending reductions equal to the sequester by reducing wasteful spending, without impacting key government programs. The legislation failed 38-62.
"The real threat to our economy is not cutting three cents of every taxpayer dollar the government spends, it's the 97 cents we're still spending," Johanns said. "The President has said he wants a scalpel instead of an axe so he can cut wasteful government spending and this bill would give him just that. I reject the notion that the only way to reduce spending is to eliminate key government services in a $3.5 trillion federal budget that can afford lavish conferences in Las Vegas complete with clowns and comedians."
Claims made by Administration officials that the sequester will force cuts to vital government services have been called into question. The fact that federal mass transit programs are slated to spend $33 million on a tourist railroad in Alaska - equal to cuts the Administration is proposing to border security fencing and infrastructure -- prove the sequester reductions do not have to impact critical government programs. The Johanns-sponsored legislation would force the government to prioritize how it spends taxpayer dollars, targeting cuts at nonessential programs while preserving important services such as border security and food safety inspections.
Democrats today also offered legislation to replace the sequester with budget gimmicks and tax hikes. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reported the Democrats' plan, which is supported by the White House, would actually increase the deficit over the next two years. Johanns opposed this legislation.
The sequester is approximately $1.2 trillion in automatic federal spending cuts that are set to take place over the next decade. The President originally proposed the sequester as part of the bipartisan 2011 Budget Control Act.
Federal spending has increased nearly 20 percent since President Obama took office, and even with the sequester reduction, federal spending will still exceed pre-stimulus levels.