South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney, an emerging leader among fiscal conservatives, said sequestration – an estimated $1.3 trillion in government spending cuts - isn’t an ideal way to reduce government spending, but it’s the best existing option available.
“It’s important that we get that amount of spending reduction. If we don’t get that reduction, then we’ve broken the promise we made to the American people during the last debt ceiling discussion,” Mulvaney said during an exclusive interview with Newsmax.
“Clearly the Senate doesn’t have any answers and neither does the president,” he said.
Mulvaney called in from a three-day Heritage Foundation retreat taking place this week in Baltimore. The Heritage Foundation, a leading conservative think tank, has long advocated for robust defense spending to ensure American security interests at home and aboard. Still, Mulvaney and other Republicans are developing a new approach to cutting the budget at the Pentagon.
The sequester, an idea hatched by President Barack Obama and passed by Congress during the 2011 budget debate, will automatically take effect in May if Congress doesn’t act to stop it. Part of the "Budget Control Act of 2011," it includes $500 billion in spending cuts to the Defense Department.
Wednesday, outgoing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned the sequestration “guarantees that we will hollow out the military” during a speech to ROTC students at Georgetown University.
When pressed about the defense cuts, Mulvaney said “an 11 percent across-the-board reduction is probably not the best way to run a military. And I do worry about a hollowed-out military – a military that looks the same, but is not capable of performing the missions that we want it to perform. That’s what frightens me.”
But the second-term Republican representative added, “I was the one who offered the amendment to freeze defense spending. I offered a 1 percent across-the-board cut to help pay for (Hurricane) Sandy. I’m not one of those Republicans who thinks that defense spending is off the table.
“And that’s why I’ve supported previous efforts to replace those reductions with other reductions. But again, that being said, the only thing worse than those military cuts would be no cuts at all.”
When asked about cuts to other programs, including Homeland Security, education, and welfare programs, Mulvaney was even more blunt.
“If we have to accept reducing spending in a less than perfect way, then I’ll except reducing spending in a less than perfect way. And keep in mind – these would be the only real spending cuts we’ve actually seen since I got to Congress.”
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