Avoiding the Sequester

GOP proposes cutting federal workforce to avoid defense sequester

February 7, 2013

Republican senators announced a plan Wednesday to avert the impending sequestration of discretionary spending without raising taxes or cutting government programs.

The plan, sponsored by Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R., N.H.), pays for sequestration by reducing the federal work force through attrition.

"It is painless as possible," Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R., Calif.) said at the press conference.

Republican senators criticized President Barack Obama’s plan to avert sequestration, saying his plan of "spending cuts and tax reforms" actually is a tax increase.

Press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday described the tax reforms as "closing loopholes that give tax advantages to the wealthy and to corporations that average Americans and average businesses don't have." Senate Republicans say these loopholes really represent "500 billion in new taxes."

The White House has not formally presented to Congress a plan to avert the sequestration, which goes into effect March 1. The president is unlikely to give a specific plan to avoid sequestration, insisting the proposal he gave the House in December remains on the table.

Carney said sequestration could not be achieved through spending cuts alone.

The Armed Service Committee emphasized the effects of the sequester are not solely an economic problem, but also one that threatens to create a "hollow force." The president called the defense cuts "economically damaging" but made no comment as to the effects the cuts would have on military effectiveness.

"I’ve visited with our top leaders … We have gone past cutting the fat, we’ve gone past cutting the meat, we’re into the bone," McKeon said about the looming military cuts. "And where they are going to have to cut will reduce the ability to train and equip these people properly—and that’s going to start costing lives."

"This is a way of doing it, without cutting defense, without cutting domestic, and without raising taxes," Sen. James Inhofe (R., Okla.) said in the press conference.