Sequestration, a budgetary tactic that would force across-board-cuts to a host of programs including the military budget, originated with the White House, not Congress as President Barack Obama claimed in last night’s debate, Rep. John Fleming, R-La., tells Newsmax TV.
Fleming, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, was commenting on Obama’s remarks on the controversial agreement to cut the budget deficit. During the debate, the president said, "First of all, the sequester is not something that I've proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen."
Watch the exclusive interview here.
The automatic cuts would reduce spending by about $1 trillion over a 10-year period, with half coming from the Pentagon and the other half from domestic programs.The idea was that the cuts were so severe and hit programs dear to both Republicans and Democrats that the two sides would reach a deal before they kicked in in January. It was supported by the White House and Congress.
“Very clearly that was the President’s idea,” Fleming said. “He brought that forward to John Boehner after the failure of the so called big deal, where Boehner kept going to him offering larger and larger amounts of revenue. Of course the President kept pulling back on the goal post. So finally out of desperation Obama advanced this notation that was based on prior legislation from 10 or 20 years ago.
“This would of course cause automatic cuts in areas of defense and the providers of health care if a super committee; a bipartisan, bicameral committee could not come up with a way to cut spending that would reform entitlements. I voted against it frankly, John. The reason is because I saw where it was going to cut just the things that the President wanted cut and it would not reform entitlements.”
The measure passed in the Republican controlled House 269 to 161, with about a third of the GOP in opposition along with half of the Democrats. Six Democrats in the Senate opposed it along with 19 Republicans for a final vote of 74 to 26.
Fleming said with the Bush tax cuts also set to expire Democrats are refusing to bargain to avoid the cuts.
“This is something that has to pass through Congress and that’s the whole problem” he said. “We’re no closer to a solution on cutting spending and bending the spending curve down than we ever were. Everybody knows that we’ve got to reform entitlements and we’ve got to fix and sustain Medicare and save Medicare. And Democrats are refusing to engage.
“They would much rather hold on to sequestration and allow the Bush tax rates to lapse back up to higher rates and then go forward with their next four years of a much more tax and spend agenda that the president has pursued for the last four years.”
The best solution, Fleming argued, is a Mitt Romney presidency, despite Obama’s comment that the cuts will not happen.
“[President Obama] has no ground to stand on. He can’t do it by himself. He can’t reverse it. He would have to pass something through Congress and there’s not time enough to pass this legislation before the end of the year,” Fleming said.
“At best, and this would be with Romney elected president, we will delay the onset of sequestration and then move next year into legislation that would actually reform entitlements and then would restore the sequestration cuts and prevent them from actually ever taking hold. So, no, the president is incapable and certainly unwilling to prevent sequestration. That was simply a re-election comment. “
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