(WASHINGTON) — One day after the White House laid out the details of $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that would take effect at the end of the year unless Congress strikes a deal, Rep. Allen West, R-Fla., uses the Republican address to lay into the president for the cuts West says will mean “serious consequences for our nation’s security.”
On Friday, the Obama Administration said billions of dollars would be slashed from defense operations and maintenance programs.
“The report leaves no question that the sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments and core government functions,” the administration writes in the report, which was submitted to Congress as required by law.
“Sequestration” is the technical name for the across-the-board spending cuts that were agreed to by bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress last year as a penalty for failing to achieve a deficit reduction plan. They take effect on Jan. 2, 2013, unless lawmakers come up with a different plan totaling $1.2 trillion.
West touts the GOP-led House’s proposed plan to replace the cuts while criticizing the president and the Democratic-run Senate for what he says is a failure to lead on the matter.
“Now the good news is, the Republican-led House of Representatives has approved a responsible plan to replace these ‘devastating’ cuts. The bad news is, the people’s House is the ONLY part of our government that has acted to eliminate this threat to our national security,” West claims in the Republican address. “The Senate, a body controlled by the president’s party, has done nothing. And the president himself has opposed or disregarded every attempt we’ve made to work with him on a solution.”
“President Obama’s failure to lead is inexcusable on its face, but what makes it even more so is the fact that this ‘sequester’ was his administration’s idea in the first place,” West says, adding later, “Dodging his responsibility is how the ‘sequester’ came about, so it is no surprise the president is doing the exact same thing now.”
But in releasing Friday’s report the White House emphasized that it had no discretion in deciding what programs would be cut or by how much. Those details were specified by lawmakers as part of the debt ceiling deal reached last year, officials said.
West and other Republicans have accused Obama and Democrats of being willing to stomach the deep cuts. The critics do not mention, however, that many Republicans also voted for the plan, including House Speaker John Boehner and GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan.
While West points out that House Republicans have passed a measure to avoid the drastic cuts, Democrats have balked because their plan includes no new revenue (tax increases). In the address, West refers to the Dems’ resistance as a “bargaining chip to raise taxes. West aims a plea “directly” to President Obama, asking him to work with Republicans:
“Mr. President: for you — the Commander-in-Chief of our Armed Forces — to sit idle and do nothing while this dark cloud hangs over our military, it is shameful, it is irresponsible, and it is wrong. It is dead wrong. In your nomination acceptance speech, you stated your goal was to have the strongest military the world has ever known. You have proven this promise to the American people is nothing more than empty rhetoric. All of this as a bargaining chip to raise taxes,” he says.
“For the sake of our country and our future, I hope you will do the right thing, sir, and work with us to eliminate this threat so we can confront the grave threats to freedom around the globe, to us and our allies.”
To resolve the standoff, both sides will need to compromise on taxes. Should lawmakers fail to reach a deal, some budget items will be spared: Veterans benefits, military personnel, and salaries for members of Congress, among other exempt categories.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Eric Bradner, CNN
Daniella Diaz, CNN
Mike Price, EastIdahoNews.com
Stephen Collinson and MJ Lee, CNN