Committee chairman says across-the-board cuts can be avoided if agencies can identify unnecessary or wasteful programs, while White House draws on pop culture to promote president's plan.
The chairman of an oversight committee is calling on federal agencies to pinpoint unnecessary programs that could be jettisoned as an alternative to the spending cuts directed under the sequestration.
Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter to 17 agency heads, saying the across-the-board cuts cannot be stopped “without a plan to end the undisciplined and unsustainable federal spending that resulted in the sequester in the first place.”
The chairman urged the federal government to shed more waste, such as redundant and nonessential agency programs. “The president agrees. He cited cutting government spending on ‘wasteful programs that don’t work’ as part of his preferred alternative to the sequester,” Issa wrote. ”I am writing to request your assistance in identifying such programs.”
Raising taxes on citizens would not be the answer to sequestration, he wrote. “Put simply, it is not a prudent way to address the rapid expansion of government spending,” Issa said.
President Barack Obama, meanwhile, has published details of his most recent compromise offer to House Speaker John Boehner, which the document says is "still on the table," and promoted it with a picture published to Twitter using "Star Wars" and "Star Trek" catch-phrases. (The image was apparently inspired by Obama's extemporaneous mixing of the two sci-fi universes in a news conference.)
Issa’s letter references recommendations from inspectors general that the oversight committee received on cutting waste. Those suggestions would add up to $85 billion in spending cuts.
Many of these suggestions could be implemented in the short term, Issa said, such as the Transportation Department instituting an integrated master schedule framework, policy and standard operating procedures to create the Next Generation Transportation System to combat waste and boost efficiency.
While both sides continue to present alternatives, there is little sign of willingness to compromise. The Obama administration has similarly complained that the sequester's across-the-board cuts are bad policy, but has opposed GOP efforts to grant the administration more discretion in making the cuts. In his March 1 press conference, Obama asserted that "these cuts are "happening because of a choice that Republicans in Congress have made."
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