Republican U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus said he is against the automatic cuts that will come as part of sequestration, but he is not sure Congress will act in time to avoid them.
Rothfus, who was in the 12th Congressional District this week, said Congress should be exploring ways to reduce wasteful spending instead of allowing across-the-board cuts. The sequestration was set to take effect Jan. 1 but was postponed to March 1 as part of the fiscal cliff deal. The measure is expected to eliminate $1.2 trillion from the federal budget over the next decade.
“I am for allowing agencies to have flexibility to see where they find the savings,” he said. “We have to continue to control spending.”
“We’ll see what the president has to propose and Senate has to propose,” he said.
Rothfus said programs should be evaluated individually. He cited the $2 billion Lifeline program, which provides discounts on cellphones and landlines to low-income residents. He said the government estimates $115 billion in improper payments were made in 2011.
“We need to be going after waste and be very careful how we expand government,” he said.
During his 2012 congressional campaign Rothfus often complained about the federal government failing to act and creating a crisis.
“This is a good example of when the House acted a couple of times and it went nowhere with the president and Senate,” he said.
While Rothfus is waiting to see what is proposed, he is against any tax increase. He said Obama’s government expansion has cost the country trillions.
“I would hope the president understands that we have a spending problem and he should be proposing ways to control spending,” he said. “Hardworking taxpayers should not be funding his big government programs.”
The White House has proposed cutting spending, finding savings in entitlement programs and closing tax loopholes for the wealthy. In a blog, White House communications director Jennifer Palmieri wrote that “the only thing standing in the way of a solution . . . is Congressional Republicans’ refusal to even consider closing tax loopholes that benefit wealthy Americans and well-connected corporations.”
Rothfus said he has doubts anything will get passed in time to stop the sequestration.
The Daily American also contacted U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster’s office to request an interview. The Republican congressman issued a statement.
“The sequester is not the way to balance a budget. The cuts are going to be devastating and the 9th Congressional District is not immune from them,” he said. “The House voted twice last year to replace the president’s sequester with common-sense cuts and reforms that protect our nation’s military and reduce the deficit. President Obama has refused to put forth an alternative plan and neither has the Democratic-controlled Senate. If the president opposes the House Republican plan, he should put forth an alternative that would protect our troops, our national security and our economy.”
The statement said the men and women of the armed forces need their government’s support. The Department of Defense’s budget would be cut under the sequestration.
“It is my hope the president will listen to what we are hearing back at home and act as the commander-in-chief and lead,” he said. “I firmly believe our brave men and women in uniform need our support in every way. We must continue to support our warfighters and their civilian service members who are working non-stop for our freedom and national security.”
House budget committee press secretary William Allison said the Office of Management and Budget would implement the sequestration if a law is not passed to replace or postpone it by March 1.
Spending in 2009 aside from defense spending was $478 billion. Under sequestration that number would be $476 this year. He said the office would determine when budgets would be cut.