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McCollum on the Sequester's Impact on DoD: 'We Are Shooting Ourselves in the Foot'

"This sequester is a folly, it is shameful, and it is a man-made mess that is completely and wholly reversible," Rep. Betty McCollum said. "This Congress acts likes it has the luxury of governing this great country with gimmicks and

 

Editor's Note: The following are Fourth District Rep. Betty McCollum's prepared remarks to the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense regarding the Department of Defense's fiscal challenges.

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"Let me start with a quote from President John Kennedy who said, 'Our problems are man-made, therefore they can be solved by man.'

This sequester is a folly, it is shameful, and it is a man-made mess that is completely and wholly reversible.

Gentleman, I absolutely believe your dire predictions of the consequences of sequestration on military readiness, capabilities, and our overall national security. 

We are shooting ourselves in the foot.

Responsible leaders would put spending, revenues, and tax expenditures on the table and come up with a compromise that protects the American people because this government provides services and protections for every American.

I voted against the Budget Control Act because I am strongly opposed to the idea of passing bad laws in the foolish hope they never take effect.

For some reason this Congress acts likes it has the luxury of governing this great country with gimmicks and game playing.

We do not have that luxury.

When I came to Congress in 2001 the Pentagon’s budget was $310 billion and the federal government was projected to have a 10-year budget surplus of over $5 trillion.

Since then the Pentagon’s budget has doubled and trillions of dollars of spending on wars, tax cuts, and programs has been put on a credit card.

For much of the past decade brave Americans in uniform have been serving and fighting in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Over a trillion dollars have been spent on the wars and not one penny of additional tax revenue was raised by Congress to pay for those wars. 

To fight these wars, absolute and total sacrifice was demanded from the military leaders here today, the men and women in your commands, and all of your families. You all delivered for us with honor. 

But the rest of the American people have been asked to sacrifice nothing, to contribute nothing extra.

Now we see this Congress doing nothing but watching as education, public health, infrastructure investments, and military readiness are gutted.

But again, taxes are off the table according to my Republican colleagues – even if it results in making our nation less secure, less protected.

As Americans, we need to pay for the government we want.

We need to pay for a strong military and for the privilege of living in a free, democratic nation. 

And, if that means paying higher taxes then I am willing to pay higher taxes rather than kick kids out of Head Start and kick poor moms off of WIC.

Gentleman, while the military personnel account is protected from sequestration it would appear that important services supporting military families are not protected.

What effect will sequestration have on military families – the spouses, children, and the quality of life of those loved ones who support the war fighter?

For example, is it accurate that cuts to child development centers and impact aid cuts to military schools will directly hit the children of service men and women?

Finally, what do you believe will be the impact of retaining our best and brightest members of the military when this fiscal mess makes their jobs more difficult and undermines the well-being of their families – especially their children?"

McCollum serves on the House Appropriations Committee.

Pam French March 02, 2013 at 02:48 AM
It's time to call out the hostage-taking conservatives for what they are, a death panel.
Mac Hall March 03, 2013 at 05:41 PM
AGREED : Responsible leaders would put spending, revenues, and tax expenditures on the table and come up with a compromise that protects the American people because this government provides services and protections for every American. For example, when given a chance even to reduce the budget for the military's 140 bands and 5,000 full-time musicians from $388 million to $200 million, the House failed to approve Congresswoman McCollum’s amendment in the most recent funding bill. The congresswoman had questioned the need to spend nearly $4 billion over the next decade on military bands and musical performances. Conversely, Representative Michele Bachmann and John Kline voted to let the band play on. Further on a vote of 216-202, the House rejected an amendment by Representatives Jack Kingston, (R-GA), and Betty McCollum, that would have trimmed $72.3 million for sports sponsorships (NASCAR, National Hot Rod Association drag racing, bass fishing tournaments, etc.). Of those in attendance at the press conference, only Representatives Bishop, Brooks, Roby and Wilson voted to cut sports sponsorship. Conversely, Repesentative Michele Bachmann and John Kline voted to let the engines roar. Representatives Bachmann and Kline’s votes have contributed to this man-made fiscal crisis. Representative McCollum continues to be a voice of leadership and fiscal responsibility.
North Hill Dude March 03, 2013 at 10:48 PM
Wow, Spoken like one who works for the government!
Mac Hall March 05, 2013 at 02:55 PM
Hi North Hill Dude Thanks for reading my comment. No I have never worked for the US Government directly nor any union for that matter. My working years were in manufacturing and I did have dealings with the Department of Defense and have been on Navy frigates ... so I have seen first hand some of the waste. My concerns are as a fiscal conservative and taxpayer ... why does America need 65 military boards and commissions ? The Army says on its Web site that it has 5,000 musicians, describing itself as “the largest and oldest employer of musicians in the country.” Another unusual aspect of the bands is that those representing the Army, Navy and Air Force military academies are not cadets attending the institutions. Rather, they are professional musicians enlisted in the services and assigned to those academy bands. In addition, there are 28 other regular Army bands in this country and abroad, 18 Army Reserve bands and 53 Army National Guard bands. Beyond that, almost every regular Army band has “music performance teams” (or MPTs) that can be “employed separately from the band headquarters in support of specific musical missions,” according to the manual. Every dollar that is spent on military bands is a dollar that could have gone to training helicopter pilots ... something that the sequester has resulted in being cut. I call 'em as I see 'em ... Representative McCollum is right. Mac Hall
Roy Roscoe October 19, 2013 at 08:35 AM
So what I think Mac is saying is he thinks Betty has some good ideas for trimming spending but she is hopelessly ineffectual at accomplishing anything. Is that correct Mac?

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