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WOODALL: Sequestration: Crisis or opportunity?

Rep. Rob Woodall, Republican congressman from Georgia's 7th District

Rep. Rob Woodall, Republican congressman from Georgia's 7th District

By the time you read this, the automatic spending cuts triggered by the now-infamous "sequester" will have begun and, while I'm no fortune teller, I'm pretty sure the Earth will not have stopped orbiting the sun and the electricity will still be on as you read this article over a pre-church doughnut and coffee.

Over the last few years, Washington has centered its major financial decisions around "crises" -- working up to the 59th minute of the 11th hour to hammer out a "deal." If you have been watching the news, you'll know the hype around Friday's sequestration deadline was no different -- except this time there was no "deal." The sequester is in full effect until Congress passes and the president signs a bill that says otherwise.

Amid all of the gnashing of teeth and projections of doom, I have some good news: the sequester is doing exactly what it was designed to do, which is to force Congress and the President to focus on out-of-control spending and implement a budget that will begin to balance America's checkbook. To be clear, I'm not a big fan of across-the-board cuts like the sequester. When I think of all the fat marbled throughout our federal budget, I certainly see areas of the budget particularly desirable to reduce. But that is the point: if the priorities of both sides of the political aisle in all branches of government are reduced, it provides an incentive to work together to seek alternatives -- alternatives that achieve better, smarter and longer-lasting deficit reduction for America.

The sequester isn't a crisis; it is an opportunity. I know better, smarter alternatives to the sequester exist because the House has passed two. Unfortunately, neither was taken up by the Senate nor has the Senate been able to pass an alternative of its own. But the heat is on for the House, Senate and president to do better.

The reductions from the sequester represent 2.4 percent of federal spending this year. Let's put this in family terms. The median American family earned $50,502 in 2012 according to the former U.S. Comptroller General. To look like the federal government, that family would have expenses of $73,417 and a credit card balance of $322,205. The sequester would ask this family with the $50,502 income to shrink its spending from $73,417 to $71,655. Yes, that reduction might be hard, but that reduction -- and more just like it -- is absolutely essential to getting this family back on track.

Even though 2.4 percent is only a small step toward more responsible budgeting, I'm not promising sequester will be easy. It certainly appears that the administration is trying its best to make certain it is unpleasant. The administration had a year to prepare but did nothing. It could have spread the reductions out over 12 months, but instead is packing them into the final six months. The Department of Homeland Security is choosing to release detainees to save money. Are detention facilities really the "fat" that the president finds in DHS? There is always a manufactured crisis to use as an excuse to wait; we must seize this opportunity to follow through on changes that are long overdue.

I spoke to a group of students at Peachtree Ridge High School last month and we were talking about America's budget challenges. We were talking about the federal debt that has been accumulated by today's generations spending money and asking tomorrow's generations to pay for it. A young woman asked, "If my parents and you know that it is wrong, why do you keep doing it?" That is clarity as only a high school student can deliver it.

Unquestionably, the debt that America has created will cause a crisis for our children and grandchildren. Our opportunity to prevent that crisis slips further away each day that we do nothing. The sequester isn't the crisis; the sequester is the opportunity. The crisis is the debt that led to the creation of the sequester. We know that passing our debts along to future generations is wrong; the only question is whether we have the courage to do something about it. Here, in our part of the world, I know that we do.

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, serves on the House Budget Committee and the House Rules Committee.

Comments

Jan 1 year, 1 month ago

Mr. Woodall, you were offered a better solution which you and fellow Republicans would not even allow to come to a vote. Isn't it time to quit playing party politics and do something good for the country? To believe that, during a time of a slow economy, the federal government can arbitrarily slice 2.5% from every budget without a serious negative impact on the economy is quite foolish. The government is responsible for about 40% of the GDP. By suddenly removing 2.5% of government spending will drop the GDP by 1%. Basic math! Even you should understand that this is a significant change and is a sign of a recession economy. Are you trying to insure a failing economy through your lack of working toward an agreement then going to try to blame the President? Remember, he did offer a compromise which met the Republicans more than half way, offering $2 in cuts for every extra $1 of tax revenue. Since significant cuts have already been made, I believe $1 in cuts for every $2 in revenue would have been a more fair compromise. Now it is time for you to stop your feeble attempt to not accept responsibility for this situation and return to Washington and earn your salary by working with Democrats and the President. After all, the voters demonstrated their wishes by voting for President Obama. That was a resounding no to the Republican plan.

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notblind 1 year, 1 month ago

49% of voters did NOT vote for Obama. Quit trying to imply that he won by some wide margin and therefore has a mandate to enact his socialist vision on the USA.

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jack 1 year, 1 month ago

If only those darn Republican Congressmen would stop representing those that elected them and be Democrats!

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

Dear Jan What plan were they offered do you have a link to it?

We haven't had a budget for 40 years now or there abouts ...

The best the Democratic controlled senate can muster is the continuing resolution or the famed "CR".

The CR is basically "autopilot", how many planes have you ridden within that were in autopilot during rough weather, such as our economy has seen over the past few years?

The President is our pilot and he must engage, even Maverick got in the fight and he didn't blame air traffic control for not doing so.

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Stu 1 year, 1 month ago

I find it telling that the one measure in the sequestration package that Representative Woodall seems to object to is the one humane provision that makes fiscal sense: releasing detained Hispanic immigrants who shouldn't have been detained in the first place. The folks who are being released were detained for manufactured "crimes" such as not having a drivers license or minor traffic offenses. But let's be honest: they were really detained because of the color of the skin and their place of birth.

I also find it ironic that Rep. Woodall, who bills himself as a champion of liberty, supports a program under which Hispanics are stopped at police checkpoints in our communities, seized, and sent to privately operated detention centers in the middle of nowhere, where they are accorded fewer fights than a common criminal, including no right to a lawyer. Is this really America?

Congressman Woodall also presents himself as a great champion of family values. I wonder how he squares that with a policy whose main effect is to systematically separate children from parents and husbands from wives -- sometimes for months, sometimes for years, sometimes forever.

Congressman Woodall trumpets his Christian faith, and I have no doubt that it is sincere. But the immigration policies he supports run counter to explicit Biblical injunctions to welcome the stranger among us, and indeed violate the principles of every major religion.

Representative Woodall is a great supporter of economic growth, yet his immigration policy damages Gwinnett's economy by driving out a population that contributes far more in sales, income, property, and social security taxes than it receives in services, and that is home to some of the most dynamic young business entrepreneurs.

I am sure that Rep. Woodall's misguided immigration policy is a product of ignorance, not bad intentions. Immigration is a complex problem, and, as Rev. Martin Luther King noted: "Rarely do we find men who willingly engage in hard, solid thinking . . . Nothing pains some people more than having to think."

Ignorance is excusable up to the point where it begins needlessly destroying innocent people's lives. Then it becomes unacceptable, even criminal.

I urge Congressman Woodall to rethink his immigration policy. While a vocal minority of your constituents may support it, the majority do not, and we are getting sick and tired of the same old rhetoric and the same old bankrupt policy. Instead of making us safer, the policy undermines our safety by making the Hispanic community distrust the police and by diverting police resources from combating real crimes. It hurts Gwinnett economically, taints our county's image, and endangers our liberties. Most importantly, it is flat-out morally wrong, and diminishes all of us.

At the end of the day, the only one who profits from this policy is the private prison industry -- the rest of us are all losers. It's time for a change.

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notblind 1 year, 1 month ago

The race card has been played !!!! All the rest of your post is as full of untruths as the racial aspect you claim. At least you admit to being a loser in the last paragraph.

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marshallsummey 1 year, 1 month ago

You keep saying that the detainees have not broken any laws, but I suggest that if you were in Mexico with no identification or were there illegally you would have zero rights as a citizen. Our country is made up of aliens, but the vast majority of them came here leagally. Don't try and make it out as not being concerned and as a racial issue.. I'm sick of being hit with the race card.

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

"Illegal" is PERSONALLY chosen state of being, not a race.

To imply that it is a race - is at best disingenuous, at worst misrepresentation of the worst degree.

The mere fact that these individuals were driving without insurance, unregistered vehicles and driver licenses is hardly not any breaking laws.

In fact, there is NO good reason they should have put THEMSELVES in the position to be stopped in a vehicle anywhere, at any time. ie Taxis, buses, legal friends etc.

All that has been on display up to this point is a complete disregard for our laws as shown by crossing illegally or overstaying legal visas initially and it just keeps going.

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notblind 1 year, 1 month ago

We need to quit beating around the bush with words like "disingenuous" and "misrepresentation". People like Stu that use the race card in reference to illegal aliens are LYING. They are working the big lie. Their whole premise is a lie. They have an immoral agenda and truth works against their agenda so lies are all they have.

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AliceJohnson 1 year, 1 month ago

Mr. Woodall, you are not willing to cut things that need to be cut. You will not vote to close subsidies for oil companies or big agriculture. You think people who use medicare or social security are government dependent. You gladly vote for anything for the defense department whether they need it or not. You are part of the problem.

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

Dear Alice Not so - you facts are out of order he has indeed moved on Big Ag.

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ystewart99 1 year, 1 month ago

The point is that President Obama won. He won not once but twice. I thought in a democracy majority rules. So if he won by 2,5, 10%, the point is he won, he is the President and that means most people agreed with him TWICE!

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jack 1 year, 1 month ago

You are correct: in a democracy, majority rules.

Thankfully, the United States is a republic, not a democracy.

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

Also he won by LOWER margins the second time around, from his own party to boot...

Mandates claimed or imaged are NOT made in such ways ...

But resistance to the " I won, now get over it - do what I say " concept IS fed in such ways.

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ystewart99 1 year, 1 month ago

I just read that Bank of America used the tax loophole to not pay a dime of tax on 4.4 billion dollars. That is just one company. Perhaps if we closed these loopholes and had companies and rich people pay their fair share (not extra, just what they owe- like the rest of us) then perhaps we would have less deficit in America. So did the sequester close the loopholes?

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R 1 year, 1 month ago

President Obama's personal friend Jeffrey R. Immelt, the CEO of GE sat on the President's very own Jobs board while his firm paid zip and sent jobs to China.

So if the President would just talk to his friends, how much could we the USA see?

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JV 1 year, 1 month ago

Monday marked the first regular workday under sequestration, and federal agencies posted more than 400 job ads by 6 p.m.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/mar/4/feds-keep-hiring-with-sequesters-in-place/

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