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Congress stares down ‘sequestration D-Day’

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, at left, discusses the ramifications of federal budget cuts set to start Jan. 2, 2013, with Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard, center, and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Atlanta. The senators and U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, met with local officials on Aug. 6, 2012, to explain how the cuts would adversely impact programs, including the military.

U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, at left, discusses the ramifications of federal budget cuts set to start Jan. 2, 2013, with Dougherty County Commission Chairman Jeff Sinyard, center, and U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Atlanta. The senators and U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany, met with local officials on Aug. 6, 2012, to explain how the cuts would adversely impact programs, including the military.

ALBANY, Ga. — With what U.S. House District 2 Rep. Sanford Bishop called "D-Day" approaching, Bishop and Georgia's two U.S. senators — Saxby Chambliss, R-Moultrie, and Johnny Isakson, R-Atlanta — urged Albany citizens Monday to let Congress know their feelings about the pending "sequestration" that threatens the nation's defense budget.

That concept, a buzz word for $1.2 trillion in mandatory discretionary funding cuts drawn into budget legislation passed last year, would, according to Isakson, have a "crippling" impact on Georgia communities like Albany whose economies rely heavily on military installations.

photo

Carlton Fletcher

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany

"If Congress allows sequestration to take place, there is the potential for our military to be hollowed out like it's never been hollowed out before," Chambliss said. "Defense Secretary (Leon) Panetta has said we need to cut the defense budget with a scalpel and not a meat ax, but sequestration is a meat ax."

After Congress' so-called "Super Committee" failed last year to come up with $1.2 trillion in cuts to the nation's budget, a "trigger" that was part of the 2011 Budget Control Act was activated that, on Jan. 2, 2013, would mandate that amount in cuts be imposed on top of cuts required by a freeze on spending at 2011 levels.

That trigger — sequestration, a concept Bishop, D-Albany, said was intended as a "sword over the Super Committee's head" — would make deep cuts in discretionary spending, 50 percent of which includes the budget of the Department of Defense.

"If sequestration is allowed to take place, I can see cuts of up to 20 percent in every military contract," Chambliss, an influential member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said. "If that happens, I see huge layoffs, huge financial losses. A study by George Mason University concluded that the Department of Defense would lose 800,000 jobs under sequestration, 28,000 of those in Georgia."

Retired Maj. Gen. David Bockel, the executive director of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce's Military Affairs Coordinating Committee, said Monday that Georgia has the fifth-most military installations in the nation.

Chambliss and Isakson are conducting meetings like the one held Monday at the downtown Government Center in all of the state's cities that are homes to military installations, and Bishop said he joined his Congressional colleagues for the meeting here to present a unified, bipartisan front.

"Unfortunately, I'm not as comfortable with the trend (in support of budget compromise) of some members of Congress as I'd like to be," the 2nd District Congressman said. "What we hope is that they see the consequences (of sequestration) if they don't work to come up with a plan everyone can live with.

"If everyone would concentrate on doing what they were elected to do, we could put our fiscal house in order. But, unfortunately, compromise is an ugly word for some. Those are the people who won't agree to anything unless they get their way 100 percent, even if it means paralyzing our government."

Chambliss offered a list of options Congress can consider:

  • Let sequestration kick in;
  • Delay the cuts by six months to a year but then "be back here in a year with the same story;"
  • Come up with ways outside defense cuts to offset the $1.2 trillion in cuts;
  • Return to the "Grand Bargain" suggested by the so-called "Gang of Six" — a bipartisan group, of which Chambliss was a member — that suggested cuts that he said "address every single one of these issues."

Isakson said a letter of support for the principles of the Grand Bargain had begun making its way through the Senate, and it had been signed by 23 Democratic and 23 Republican senators.

"We're not here today to talk about not cutting $1.2 trillion from the nation's budget," the junior senator said. "We're here to talk about responsibility. Sequestration is nothing more than a penalty for Congress not doing what it is supposed to do.

"At a meeting last week, the prime minister of Australia said America is one balanced budget away from returning to pre-eminence. I believe that, but it's going to take a coalition of Democrats and Republicans."

Bishop said the military cuts brought on by sequestration would have a "ripple effect" throughout communities like Albany.

"These cuts are simply unacceptable," he said. "Our armed services, our military personnel and our veterans deserve better. But the cuts will not just impact our military. The ripple effect will impact our farmers and our ag sector, and teachers, police officers and others in the civilian work force."

Comments

Trustbuster 2 years, 1 month ago

This is the prime example of why congress needs to pass a budget.

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Cartman 2 years, 1 month ago

So you've kicked the can down the road and feigned fiscal responsibility by threatening yourselves with a budget poison-pill provision - and its finally coming to a head again. Boy! That's real leadership from Washington!

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Cartman 2 years, 1 month ago

...and you're in a photo discussing it with Jeff Sinyard, who sat at the helm of the Dougherty County Commission while Dougherty Countians suffered through the most unfair and unrealistic property appraissal in its history. What is he doing? Giving you tips on how to raise more tax revenue?

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agirl_25 2 years, 1 month ago

Is Sinyard retired military?

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Cartman 2 years, 1 month ago

I'm almost positive he is not retired mil. and pretty sure he is not former mil at all. Too country club for that.

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Twosons 2 years, 1 month ago

He has never served in the military.

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ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 1 month ago

Well do wonders never cease to amaze me. Sanford Bishop does know how to get to Albany! Oh yeah, it's an election year...that explains that!

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Kay523 2 years, 1 month ago

Isakson and Chambliss vote against every attempt to compromise and their buddy - Speaker Boehner will not even consider compromises so they are reaping what they sowed a year ago - poor republicans first the TSPLOST dies and now they shoot themselves in the foot and the military too! Do the right thing and pass a bipartisan budget,

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ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 1 month ago

Kay, just in case you didn't notice, President Obama proposed a "budget" to Congress...the Senate (last I checked it's controlled by the Democrats) voted on a bipartisan basis to reject his proposal. In fact, it didn't get one single vote. That's bipartisan in my book. What 'cha think?

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YDoICare 2 years, 1 month ago

Objective you are correct in regards to the Senate vote and actually there have been multiple votes. One point of clarification, however, is that the President, Obama in this case, or any prior or future President of United States does not have the Constitutional authority to establish the Federal Budget. The President as you wrote “proposes” which is only a listing of suggestions supplied first to the House of Representatives since they alone have the power to originate any bill for the raising of revenue. The US Senate may propose or concur with the House on said bills just like any other bill. Once a budget is passed by the House initially and then the Senate (with both passing all sections and amendments), the President then has the Constitutional authority to sign, veto, or allow the budget to become enacted without signature following 10 days.

The blame for failing to pass budget does not stand with the President, regardless of who is in office at the time. The President does not have the power to create a budget under the Constitution. The blame stands with Congress and both chambers. The House refuses to send something to the Senate that has any hope of passing, and the Senate proposes amended versions of those same budget proposals which do not have any chance of passing the House. Both chambers, however, can find the time to pass “urgent” measures such as naming Post Offices and Federal Buildings, but recess before any discussion of the Post Office’s default on having to have revenue currently on hand to guarantee future pensions.

No President, past, present, or future, has the Constitutional power to change this lack of Congressional action whether it gets labeled partisan or bi-partisan. Unless one Party has a 60+ Member majority in the US Senate which neither Party has, one Senator has the power to prevent legislation from moving forward since cloture cannot be invoked. In the House, the majority Party whether by 1 member or 434 members has the power to at least move legislation forward. Like any President, Obama deserves criticism for some positions and praise for others depending on one’s personal beliefs. My contention is that with the atmosphere in Congress this entire Presidential term, Obama, Clinton, McCain, Romney, or anyone else either last election or this election would have similar success in helping the vast majority of Americans and maintaining the United States as a world leader.

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ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 1 month ago

YDoICare: I understand the full process. I think at the end of the day, we agree, there is plenty of fault to go around...Congress and President. There has been NO compromise offered by either party...Have a blessed day.

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YDoICare 2 years, 1 month ago

Objective, I think we do agree on this topic and would probably agree on more than we would disagree. Even on those occasions we would most likely agree to disagree after hearing each other out. I’ve just gotten into the habit of commenting whenever I read something either pro or con regarding President Obama which isn’t as simple as many people think. Unfortunately, I think national politics has gotten so polarized that anyone toward the middle takes extra heat. Obama is far from perfect, but I do not find him to be anti-American or anywhere near being a socialist as others contend. Likewise, Romney has some positives and negatives. Sadly, race does play a factor with some people who can only see faults and others perfection because of the race, but I do give the President credit for not making race into an issue with his positions. Regardless of who is in office, however, Congress needs to get off their pedestal and represent the people of their districts and state instead of the interests of Super PACs and 501c organizations. It’s sad that non-profit groups who solely exist to push political agendas are tax exempt even though they are financed by millionaires; while local groups who often have to fight through tons of red tape to pick up garbage or assist the community are sometimes limited because a few only seek profit for themselves and not betterment of the community for all. Best to you and yours, have a great day and even better tomorrows.

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Cartman 2 years, 1 month ago

None

by Cartman

Whenever I hear of Chambliss and Isakson, the picture of them with Ted Kennedy pops into my mind. And when I hear of Sanford Bishop, I remember the story about him getting caught urinating into a coffee cup while on a commercial flight. We are well represented in South Georgia!

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howsad 2 years, 1 month ago

All three are part of the "do nothing congress" merely offering more lip service and no action.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 1 month ago

We would not need as much military if we were not getting in these incidental wars. Look at Russia. They did exactly what were are doing now when they were the USSR. They downscaled their military and look how they have prospered. They are laughing all the way to the bank. You spend 20 years in service, retire at a fat cat retirement. Go to work for civil service making big bucks doing same as you were doing for a lot less. Do we need this? No! And were are not at risk like they want us to believe. The biggest risks to us here are the folks who carry guns and try shooting up in Albany. Cops make a fraction of what military does.

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Trustbuster 2 years, 1 month ago

Everyone needs to read the "Debt Bomb" by Sen. Coburn. His book exposes the political corruption in the senate and our lawmakers unwillingness to deal with the national debt in a meaningful way. Our federal govt. spends money like a drunken sailor at a Tiki bar. No limits or constraints.

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43cop 2 years, 1 month ago

Well please do us all a favor and remove "Bodine"'s mug shot and especially the bottom photo of "Teddy" and "Sanford" so the nightmares that they have caused people will go away.

Thank you.

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Lip service by howsad 2 years, 1 month ago

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