With our national debt at nearly $17 trillion and climbing, it is crucial that the federal government find responsible ways to reduce spending. Unfortunately, Washington too often takes the easy way out, making it hard for the rest of the country.
The latest example of the federal government's inability to properly manage the federal budget is being felt by hundreds of thousands of civilian Department of Defense workers across the nation, including more than 11,000 employees of Hill Air Force Base being furloughed by the Obama administration. Rather than make the tough decisions about lowering the cost of government, the president has decided to cut the salaries of thousands of men and women who are trying to keep our country safe.
I opposed the Budget Control Act, the legislation that created the so-called "sequester" which led to the furloughs. Instead, I supported several deficit reduction plans that made targeted cuts to inefficient and wasteful federal programs, as well as reforms that would generate savings by returning certain government functions back to the states. If these measures had been implemented, Congress would have had plenty of time to find responsible spending reductions and make necessary reforms. However, those plans were rejected by the president in favor of allowing the irresponsible across the board Defense cuts to take place.
Even with the sequester in place, President Obama still has discretion to determine where the budget should be cut. But rather than slow the growth of federal spending on programs with lower priorities, the president is choosing to put our national security in jeopardy by threatening high-priority programs and hollowing out our defensive forces, while crippling DOD civilian families who will be seeing a 20 percent reduction in salaries through the end of the fiscal year.
Without the president's support to make necessary changes, there is little Congress can do before the end of the fiscal year to reverse or correct this problem. I will continue to fight to ensure that future spending reforms target areas that have much lower importance than the programs that keep our nation safe and secure.
Sen. Mike Lee,
Lee is Utah's junior U.S. senator and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.