Kansas will lose at least $79 million in funding for the state’s military bases and face about $10.8 million in cuts to education this year if Congress and the president can’t reach agreement to head off automatic budget cuts scheduled to begin Friday, according to a new White House report.
Those and other Kansas-specific cuts — part of the national sequestration debate — are detailed in a state-by-state report released by the White House Sunday evening.
Staffs for Kansas’ two senators and Wichita’s House representative were reviewing the numbers Monday and said they think there may be less painful ways to implement cuts than what the White House has described.
“Washington should be more than capable of cutting less than three percent of its nearly four trillion dollar budget,” Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Dodge City said in an e-mail. “In fact, considering our staggering national debt and the dramatic increase in federal spending under President Obama, we should be able to cut more. However, these savings won’t be achieved through bully pulpit scare tactics and localized threats via White House press release.”
Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, who also responded to questions via e-mail, had a similar reaction to the White House report.
“This small dose of fiscal discipline will need not result in the calamities President Obama is suggesting,” Pompeo said. “It simply requires leadership. Every day, Kansas’ small businesses have to figure out how to survive with lower revenues and drops in sales and, goodness knows, higher costs because of this president’s regulations.”
The Kansas-specific cuts detailed in the White House report include:
Kansas also would be affected by nationwide cuts in federal services such as aviation safety and security, emergency response, immigration enforcement, food safety, small-business loans and mental-health treatment, the White House said. Kansas-specific amounts were not detailed in the report.
The automatic budget cuts, called the sequester, total about $85 billion nationwide for the rest of 2013.
The sequester was part of a deal struck in August between the president and Congress that averted going over the so-called fiscal cliff.
The compromise plan raised the national debt ceiling so the country didn’t have to default on its debts. At the same time it dictated massive spending cuts to reduce the federal debt. The cuts are about evenly split between the defense and domestic budgets.
At the time, the cuts contained in the sequester were designed to be politically painful, to put pressure on Congress and the president to compromise on a deficit-reduction plan.
That hasn’t happened and it appears unlikely a deal will be struck before the cuts begin to take effect Friday.
Republicans have accused President Obama of attempting to inflate the level of crisis the sequester would cause to rally the public to his side. They say the cuts would amount to only about 2 to 3 percent of federal spending and could be accomplished without major disruption.
Pompeo said he doesn’t think the sequester cuts enough.
“This bill isn’t perfect,” Pompeo said. “For instance, it only cuts $85 billion and doesn’t begin to address our long-term fiscal problems. It also impacts national security in ways that simply do not make sense by tying the hands of our military leaders needlessly. The House has twice passed legislation to address this concern.”
Added Roberts: “The President should be working with Congress to find more responsible alternatives to the sequester like eliminating waste, fraud and abuse and making sensible cuts to auto-pilot spending, rather than scaring the American people while demanding higher taxes.”
Obama and his Democratic supporters accuse the Republicans of obstructing progress to protect their wealthy supporters.
The president has advocated for solving the sequester through what he calls a balanced package of some spending cuts and closure of tax loopholes that primarily benefit the richest Americans.