Rep. Tom Price, vice chairman of the House Budget Committee, tells Newsmax that the sequester’s spending cuts will begin on March 1, but he predicts they will be replaced by much more targeted cuts if President Barack Obama stops playing “political games.”
The Georgia Republican also says the fact that the federal government will collect more revenue this year than ever before proves that the nation is in a “spending debt crisis,” not a revenue crisis.
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Rep. Price was elected in 2004. He also sits on the Ways and Means Committee and is former chairman of the Republican Study Committee.
President Obama wants the GOP to adopt a stopgap measure to head off sequestration, but a growing number of Republicans favor letting sequestration happen if the president is unwilling to slash spending.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Wednesday, Price observes: “This spending reduction, the sequestration, was part of the debt ceiling increase negotiated in August of 2011. So the reductions have to occur, absolutely of necessity because we’re in a spending debt crisis.
“House Republicans have offered on two separate occasions last year an alternative that would prioritize the spending and not have across-the-board spending cuts. The Democrat-controlled Senate and the president refused to be specific about what kind of spending reductions they think are most appropriate. So the ball’s in the Senate’s court or the president’s court to get specific about spending reductions. Otherwise, they’ll occur the way they were designed originally.”
House Speaker John Boehner says there will be no last-minute deal on sequestration.
Asked if sequestration is therefore inevitable, Price responds: “Time is ticking and again we haven’t seen any specifics as an alternative out of the Democrat-controlled Senate or the president.
“My sense is that sequestration will occur on March 1 and hopefully at that point the president will recognize he needs to get specific with an alternative and not just deliver a speech with props behind him, and then we’ll be able to move forward in a commonsense, constructive manner to replace it with some spending reductions that are much more targeted.
“What we need is action on the part of the Senate so then we can come together in a conference committee and work out these remarkable challenges that we have and then pass the bill through the Congress and send it to the president and let him determine whether or not he’ll sign it.”
As for Obama’s attempts to blame Republicans for the looming sequestration, Price tells Newsmax: “It wouldn’t be the first time that this style has occurred on the part of the president.
“Sadly, he seems just to be playing political games, which is really a shame. These are very, very serious issues. This was an idea that grew out of the White House. It was adopted by the Congress and signed by the president in August 2011. These spending reductions are absolutely vital.
“We don’t believe that across-the-board spending cuts are wise. It’s not a reasoned, sober way to reduce spending. But if that’s the only way that Washington can reduce spending, then that’s the way it’s got to be.
“The fact of the matter is we are in a spending debt crisis, not a revenue debt crisis. Revenues this year to the federal government will be at their highest level ever — ever. The federal government will collect more tax money in 2013 than it has ever collected before and will continue to have trillion-dollar or near trillion-dollar deficits. This means that we’re spending too much, not that we’re taxing too little.
“We need to get responsible. There are areas in the federal government where we ought to be reducing spending over and over and over. The Governmental Accounting Office cites them, the Congressional Budget Office, the Office of Management and Budget, all of them cite duplicate programs and redundant programs and programs that are no longer working and programs that no longer have authorization for the spending, yet the spending continues to go on. It’s time to get responsible in Washington. The American people know that.”
Price was also asked about Vice President Joe Biden’s remarks on Tuesday that a shotgun is all Americans need to defend their homes.
“I’m always amused and surprise at what comes out of the vice president’s mouth,” he says.
“In this instance, he believes that he knows best what individual Americans ought to use to protect themselves. Individual Americans know and have the right to determine how they may best protect themselves, not the vice president.”
The White House leaked a draft proposal of President Obama’s immigration plan, which would allow illegal immigrants to become legal permanent residents within eight years. Sen. Marco Rubio said the president’s plan is dead on arrival.
Price comments: “Again, sadly, what we see out of this White House are just more political games, and playing politics is not what we need out of this administration at a time when we have huge challenges in the area certainly of the economy, certainly energy, certainly healthcare, and immigration indeed.
“I want to commend my colleagues who are working out a solution. To have the president try to torpedo this leads me to believe that he may want this to be a political issue and [he does] not have a real solution.”
Price has been talked about as a possible successor to outgoing Sen. Saxby Chambliss in Georgia. Asked if he is seriously considering a senate bid, Price responds: “It’s just too soon to make that decision.
“My responsibility is to do the job that I was elected to do by my constituents but also to fulfill the responsibility that I was given by my colleagues as vice chairman of the Budget Committee. So that’s where our attention is focused right now and we’ll make a decision later in the year.”
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