Though he questions how some of the cuts have been implemented, Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, thinks the sequester was a positive step toward getting federal spending under control.
“In my judgment, the pain has not been too great,” he told The Eagle editorial board this week.
In general, he’s right. Though the sequester was a dysfunctional way to govern, it isn’t too much to ask the government to trim $85 billion from its budget. And some of the cuts ordered by agencies, such as ending public tours of the White House, appear more political than responsible.
Pompeo doesn’t want to diminish how the sequester is affecting some families, but he notes that nearly every business in Wichita has had to deal with budget cuts. And there is no place that knows furloughs like Wichita, he said.
Pompeo also notes that with a few exceptions, most government agencies still are receiving more money than they did in 2009-10. So if those agencies were able to do their jobs in 2010, why can’t they do them now? If the Federal Aviation Administration was able to operate control towers at rural airports in 2010, Pompeo asked, why did it have to cut that as part of the sequester?
Congress isn’t immune to the cuts. Pompeo said that his office budget this year will be about 15 percent less than it was in 2011, his first year in Congress. As a result, he expects to have one or two fewer employees.
Though he described the sequester cuts as a “wide-open layup,” Pompeo recognizes that it can be difficult to cut domestic spending, especially at a level that would make a real impact on the federal budget. But that makes him optimistic that Congress will recognize the need to tackle entitlement spending, which is the main cause of long-term budget concerns.
Here’s hoping he is right about that, too.
On other issues:
• Pompeo wants to make sure that immigration reform fixes the system and that we don’t end up in the same situation in 10 years. One key for him is ensuring there is good border security. He is willing to consider some form of legal standing for immigrants now living here, noting that the United States is not going to deport them. That’s a pragmatic approach.
• Congress is not going to repeal the Affordable Care Act while President Obama is in office, Pompeo said, but the U.S. House will keep challenging various provisions of it. He expects more problems to surface as the law’s requirements phase in.
• Pompeo’s new position on the House Intelligence Committee has made him more aware of how cybersecurity is a serious threat to business and the government. “It’s a sobering challenge,” he said.
• Pompeo doesn’t support any new gun-control laws, arguing instead that the government needs to focus on enforcing existing laws. But why not at least support expanded background checks?