Entries in automatic spending cuts (3)


USO Fundraises to Salvage Fleet Week

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Richard M. Wolff(NEW YORK) -- It’s not the Air Force holding a bake sale to buy a bomber, but the United Services Organization is holding a fundraiser to keep Fleet Week afloat after it was torpedoed by sequester cuts.

The USO sent out its fundraising pitch email this week.

In light of across-the-board spending cuts mandated in the sequester, the Defense Department has said the Armed Forces cannot spend money on outreach opportunities like Fleet Week, the time each May when members of the Marines, Navy and the Coast Guard come ashore in coastal cities to celebrate with civilians and give shows to the public. The event was originally scheduled for the week of Memorial Day.

“Will we allow this opportunity to demonstrate America’s support of our men and women in uniform pass us by?” retired Col. Jack Jacobs asked readers in the email for the USO. “Not on our watch!”

The email pledges that the organization will “keep the spirit of Fleet Week alive” and “make our military appreciation and Memorial Day events better than ever before.”

“Although the sequester has created a large gap to close, with YOUR help – we can do it!” Jacobs wrote.

USO of Metropolitan New York hopes to raise $75,000 in donations to host events between Armed Forces Day and the week of Memorial Day.

Supporting the troops and military families is a year-round endeavor that involves hundreds of events annually, according to Gayle Fishel, director of media relations for the USO.

“While we do not know what events are tied to sequestration, it is clear that today’s environment makes the services and programs that the USO provides even more important,” Fishel told ABC News in an email Wednesday. “Fleet Week in New York City is one of the many ways, and an important way, we support the troops and families and continue to be always by their side.”

The Navy and Air Force both cancelled all shows for their flight demonstration teams, the Blue Angels and the Thunder Birds, for the rest of the fiscal year, citing sequestration as the cause for the cuts.

Fort Bragg, a major American Army base in North Carolina, was forced to cancel its Independence Day celebration because of the cuts as well.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sen. Kelly Ayotte Keeps Door Open for ‘Big Agreement’ on Budget

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- While the White House and Congress failed to reach an agreement to avoid automatic spending cuts that began taking effect on March 1, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., said she is still open to the idea of a “big agreement” to address the country’s long-term fiscal challenges, as long as it addresses both tax reform and entitlement reform.

“If we’re going to increase revenue again it’s got to go to the debt with real entitlement reform and real tax reform, where you actually lower rates,” Ayotte said Sunday morning on This Week.  ”Absolutely I think we need to do a big agreement for the country because we haven’t dealt with the fundamental drivers of our debt.”

When asked if she would accept a larger agreement that raises tax revenues, Ayotte said she would not agree to tax increases that “increase more government,” but only if they are applied to reducing the debt.

“I am willing to say if we take the form of lowering rates, so that we can focus on economic growth, and then we take a portion of that and apply it to the debt with real entitlement reform – but it has to go to the debt,” Ayotte said. “This sequester has to be dealt with within existing spending and alternative cuts, and we need real entitlement reform and real tax reform. That’s what we need for the country if we’re going to drive down our debt and also be focused on economic growth.”

White House economic adviser Gene Sperling said the process of the automatic budget cuts is “not going to hurt as much on day one,” but he said he believes the “slow grind” of the cuts’ impact may force sides back to the bargaining table for a larger agreement.

“My belief is that as this pain starts to gradually spread to communities affected by military spending, to children who need mental health services, to people who care about our border security, I believe that more Republican colleagues who are concerned about this harm to their constituents will choose bipartisan compromise on revenue raising tax reform with serious entitlement reform,” Sperling said.

Sperling called unwillingness by Republicans to avoid the automatic budget cuts by closing tax loopholes and deductions “an unreasonable position,” and said the failure to reach a deal to avert the spending cuts this week was “not a win for anyone.”

“This is not a win for Republicans,” Sperling said. “Republicans are supposed to be for stronger national defense. This cuts our military preparedness dramatically. They’re supposed to be for border security. These sequester cuts will end up meaning enough reduction in hours that would be the equivalent of 5,000 border patrol agents being cut. They’re supposed to be long-term entitlement reform. This does no long-term entitlement reform.”

Sperling rejected the idea that the administration could have softened the impact of the automatic spending cuts by creating more flexibility on what areas could be cut from each government agency that will be impacted by the $85 billion automatic spending cuts.

“There is no way that you can move the deck chairs around in a way that will not cost our economy, as CBO projects, 750,000 jobs,” Sperling said. “When you have those type of harsh spending cuts in such a short concentrated period of time, it’s like saying to somebody you can cut off three of your fingers, but you can have the flexibility to choose which ones you want to cut off.”

But Ayotte countered that alternative spending cuts should have been found to reduce the impact on the country.

“Why can’t both sides work together to do this in a more sensible way?” Ayotte asked. “There’s a whole host of ideas of how we could cut spending in a more responsible way that doesn’t undermine our national security.”


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Rep. Eliot Engel: The Sequester Is ‘Stupid’

ABC (WASHINGTON) – Speaking Sunday morning on ABC News’ This Week, Rep. Eliot Engel, D-NY, called the automatic spending cuts — also known as the “sequester” — that are scheduled to go into effect on March 1 a “stupid thing.”

“I think the sequester was a stupid thing. I voted against it the first time it came up. Congress keeps kicking the can down the road. It’s really a ridiculous thing to do. The fact is that we need to do things that are smart, not take a meat cleaver and just hack cuts,” Engel said. “I think Congress should sit down and avoid the sequester. And if the sequester kicks in, for a week or two, we should then fix it so it doesn’t become a permanent thing.”

Engel, the Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member, was joined on the This Week roundtable by House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Mich., who warned that sequestration would affect national security.

“There will be [an] impact on national security, there is no doubt. And I think there’s some misnomers. So it’s really only 2 cents on the dollar over the whole federal budget, but they’ve scrunched that down into seven months and highlighted, or at least put most of the burden on the Defense Department. So that is going to have an impact. That’s a 13 percent cut,” Rogers said.

Rogers went on to argue for making the departments responsible for giving the cuts “flexibility” to ensure the cuts are made wisely as opposed to indiscriminately.

“There’s a big difference from a sailor on the Eisenhower out in the Mediterranean and the travel coordinator at the EPA.  You can’t treat them the same.  And the way this is structured it treats everyone the same. Can’t do that,” Rogers said. “We have intelligence operations that could get slowed down or stopped.  That’s a problem.”

Automatic spending cuts will go into effect on March 1 if a deal to avert it is not reached before that time. Lawmakers, unable to agree on the makeup of a possible deal, have not been able to reach a deal to avoid the looming cuts. President Obama has called for an alternative that includes both spending cuts and new revenue. Republican leaders have said new revenue is off the table.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

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