Richmond County Daily Journal
As federal lawmakers left Washington on Thursday to start their weekend, so did any hope of avoiding the sequestration.
On Thursday at midnight, the forced spending cuts that President Barack Obama and his administration have been warning about took effect.
In 2011, Congress passed a law that said if the government couldn’t agree on a plan to reduce the national deficit by $4 trillion, then automatic, arbitrary spending cuts totaling $85 billion this year and approximately $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years would take effect across the board.
“The whole design of these arbitrary cuts was to make them so unattractive and unappealing that Democrats and Republicans would actually get together and find a good compromise of sensible cuts as well as closing tax loopholes and so forth. And so this was all designed to say we can’t do these bad cuts; let’s do something smarter. That was the whole point of this so-called sequestration,” Obama said.
U.S. Senator for North Carolina, Richard Burr, said that the federal government has a spending problem that needs to be cut. “I would prefer more prioritized cuts that would address real waste, fraud, and abuse in federal spending, but this plan was crafted by the president and rather than indicating he will work with Congress to avoid sequestration, he is moving the goal posts by now asking for a tax-hike as well.”
The spending cuts will take millions of dollars from North Carolina and impact funding for many programs and organizations.
Last Sunday, the White House released an estimate of the amount of money that would be cut from programs because of the sequester.
North Carolina could lose approximately $25.4 million in funding for primary and secondary education and about $16.8 million in funds for about 200 teachers, aides, and staff who help children with disabilities, according to White House estimates.
Approximately 22,000 civilian Department of Defense employees could be laid off, reducing gross pay by around $117.5 million in total. In the Army, base operation funding could be cut by about $136 million, funding for Air Force operations could be cut by about $5 million, and the Navy would have to cancel aircraft depot maintenance in Cherry Point, N.C., the White House said.
Law enforcement could lose about $401,000 in Justice Assistance Grants that support law enforcement, prosecution and courts, crime prevention and education, corrections and community corrections, drug treatment and enforcement, and crime victim and witness initiatives in North Carolina.
Other programs that could lose money are work-study jobs, early childhood education, job-search assistance, child care, vaccines for children, public health and the STOP Violence Against Women Program.
“These cuts will be harmful for our state, but it is my hope that we can come together, Democrats and Republicans, on a long-term deficit reduction plan before the most severe impacts of sequestration are felt in North Carolina. The middle class shouldn’t have to keep paying the price for Washington’s dysfunction,” said U.S. Senator for North Carolina Kay Hagan.
“Sequestration was the president’s plan all along, he intends to see it go through, he and his cabinet have discretion on how these cuts will be implemented, and any negative impacts it carries with it will be the direct result of his unwillingness to work with Congress to find a more responsible solution,” Burr said.
U.S. Representative Richard Hudson, for North Carolina’s 8th Congressional District, said that the sequester is, “a terrible way to cut spending.”
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with cutting spending by $85 billion this year or a trillion dollars over the next decade — in fact, it’s necessary — but the president’s sequester is a reckless way to do it. As it currently stands, most of the cuts fall disproportionately on national defense,” Hudson said.
“We need to cut with a scalpel instead of a machete,” he said.
Hagan said bills that have been proposed to avoid the sequestration have not addressed the next eight years.
“Washington cannot keep operating on short-term, patchwork solutions. That’s not how any company does business, it’s not how families budget their money, and it’s not how we’re going to provide the certainty North Carolinians need,” she said.
Hagan said she is not willing to give up on bipartisan cooperation.
“Congress still must do its job. We need a long-term deficit reduction plan that is balanced and bipartisan. Even though gridlock has gotten in the way of solutions far too frequently, the answer isn’t to just throw up our hands and forget our responsibilities. The answer is to get Republicans and Democrats to come to the table and talk about how we can meet in the middle,” she said.
— Staff Writer Laura Edington can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.