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Congressman Courtney – frustrated by ongoing Sequester

August 2, 2013 Areawide, Business 1 Comment

By Congressman Joe Courtney

Congressman Joe Courtney testifies on the need to end the Sequester. Photo: screen shot from YouTube video

Congressman Joe Courtney testifies on the need to end the Sequester. Photo: screen shot from YouTube videBy Congressman Joe Courtney

Today, (Aug. 2) the House adjourned for a five week district work period without completing action on a 2014 budget.

Like so many of you, I am deeply frustrated that the House is leaving town today without finishing its work on one of the most fundamental duties outlined in the Constitution.

Congress should remain in Washington as long as it takes to finish the budget and complete a plan to end the across-the-board budget cuts known as “sequestration.”

Sequestration taking a toll

The direct impacts of sequestration, which went into effect on March 1, were slow to reach eastern Connecticut. However, in the last few weeks, we have seen increasing effects of the indiscriminate budget cuts that make up sequestration, underscoring the need for action in Congress to reverse this self-imposed economic punishment.

Recently, I took to the House floor to call on my colleagues to get serious about finishing the budget and ending sequestration.

 

Across the country, civilian defense workers are being forced to take 11 unpaid days off for the rest of the year as a result of cuts.

In addition to the direct impact that furloughs will have on their family budgets, it is clear that the furlough of over 700 people at the Submarine Base and over 600 in our Connecticut National Guard will compromise the readiness and operation of our military.

Connecticut families are beginning to feel other impacts as well.

Cuts to Head Start are leaving children from low-income families without access to early childhood education to better prepare them for school.

Even more obscure cuts, such as to government resources to accurately predict hurricanes, leave Connecticut families vulnerable.

These mindless cuts make no sense, and they endanger our economic recovery at a time when we can least afford a setback.

Getting out of the budget impasse

Sequestration was triggered because of Congress’ inability to pass its own bipartisan compromise to cut $1.2 trillion out of the budget over the next decade.

Cuts of $110 billion – split evenly between defense and non-defense programs – will hit the budget each year, causing compounding damage to nearly every aspect of our budget.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) recently found that allowing sequestration to continue would result in the loss of up to 1.6 million jobs – losses that could jeopardize our fragile economic recovery.

Although there are many areas where Congress can and should make thoughtful reductions in spending, the mindless chainsaw of sequestration is not the right approach.

Despite the noise coming from Washington, I still believe that it is possible for Congress to come together and prevent these indiscriminate cuts from continuing.

For instance, the Congressional Budget Office has forecast that revenue coming in to the government this year will exceed initial estimates by over $100 billion – or the amount needed to end sequestration in 2013.

These resources could be put to use to help pay down sequestration. That is why I am pushing for the completion of the 2014 budget.

This past March, both the House and Senate passed their own versions of the 2014 budget. While the House plan crafted by Republican Budget Chairman Paul Ryan would lock in sequestration cuts in 2014 and the coming decade, the Senate plan eliminated sequestration through a combination of spending reductions and elimination of tax loopholes.

However, instead of allowing the normal process of negotiating a final House-Senate budget to move forward, I have been disappointed that House Speaker John Boehner has blocked completion of this critical process.

With only nine days left on the House schedule in September before the new budget year begins, we do not have a moment to waste — it is long past time to negotiate a budget that ends sequestration and takes a responsible, balanced approach to deficit reduction.

Compromise and action

Sequestration was not created as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act – it was authored by a bipartisan trio who helped pass one of the most significant budget policies in recent decades that helped drive down our deficits in the 1990s.

Senators Phil Gramm (R-TX), Fritz Hollings (D-SC) and Warren Rudman (R-NH) created sequestration as a blunt tool to force Congress to make tough choices about our budget.

The law they authored, the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act, set hard budget targets and, if Congress failed to meet them, automatic, indiscriminate budget cuts would kick in.

This framework successfully drove Congress to develop bipartisan plans to reduce our deficit and avoid sequestration – which should serve as the model for this Congress as we deal with the difficult tasks ahead.

In fact, Senator Gramm told Congress in 2011 that “It was never the objective of Gramm-Rudman to trigger the sequester; the objective of Gramm-Rudman was to have the threat of the sequester force compromise and action.”

I agree, and will continue to work towards bipartisan compromise and action that ends sequestration and enacts a long term and balanced budget that provides a path forward for our economy.

Posted August 2, 2013

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Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Daria Novak says:

    Recently I read a good explanation of our economic situation. Here is the premise in a nutshell: In nature, a seed must be fertilized in a climate conducive to growth. In our economy, the seeds are unlimited entrepreneurial ideas, fertilized by capital, and the climate conducive to growth is a restrained federal government. What’s standing in the way of growth is a wall separating the people with ideas from the people with capital. This wall, our tax code, is slowing new capital formation and double-taxing any capital that does form.

    Joining capital and ideas is not an anti-social act, despite what Washington would have us believe. Remember when Ronald Reagan said we must “Tear down this wall!” Well, we just added more bricks to it by increasing taxes on income, dividends, and capital gains. Congress doesn’t seem to understand that government can’t create wealth. It can only transfers it from one taxpayer to another (who may or may not pay taxes). Think of it like taking water from the deep end of the pool and pouring it in the shallow end.

    Sequestration and other Congressional tricks only push our big government, big government spending addiction down the road. We need an intervention! We need real growth in the private sector! We don’t need big government. If we increase the rate of real economic growth by only 1/10 of 1%, it is 27 times more beneficial than cutting spending by that same 1/10 of a percent of GDP. If we want things to improve in Eastern CT we need to recognize growth begins and ends with capital investment. That 1/10 of 1% growth can reduce the deficit over 10 years by $314 billion, according to Chuck Kadlek (former economic adviser to the late Rep. Jack Kemp).

    Each new dollar of non-residential capital investment (equipment, machines, structures, computers, etc.) generates 46 cents more GDP each year! According to the Woodhill Equation we are about 15.6 million jobs away from full employment. I, for one, am tired of partisan politics and the blame game when it comes to this great nation. We need real leadership in Washington, with constructive ideas for solving our problems. Congressman Courtney opposed the Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act of 2013 which would have increased accountability for and transparency in the federal regulatory process by requiring Congress to approve all new major regulations. This is the opposite of what we should be doing! I want to see good change from DC. Sadly, I have not seen it coming from this Congress.

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