Governors: Looming cuts threaten economic gains

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 23, 2013 at 4:55 pm •  Published: February 23, 2013
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"My feeling is I can't help what's going on in Washington," Gov. Terry Branstad, R-Iowa, said in an interview Saturday. "I can't help the fact that there's no leadership here, and it's all politics as usual and gridlock. But I can do something about the way we do things in the state of Iowa."

Indeed, right now no issue carries the same level of urgency as the budget impasse.

Congressional leaders have indicated a willingness to let the cuts take effect and stay in place for weeks, if not much longer.

The cuts would trim $85 billion in domestic and defense spending, leading to furloughs for hundreds of thousands of workers at the Transportation Department, Defense Department and elsewhere.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said the cuts would harm the readiness of U.S. fighting forces.

The looming cuts were never supposed to happen. They were intended to be a draconian fallback intended to ensure a special deficit reduction committee would come up with $1 trillion or more in savings from benefit programs. It didn't.

"We should go back and remember that sequestration was originally designed by both the administration and Congress as something so odious, so repellent, that it would force both sides to a compromise. There can't be any question, this is something that nobody wants," said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat.

Obama has stepped up efforts to tell the public about the cuts' negative impact and pressure Republicans who oppose his approach of reducing deficits through a combination of targeted savings and tax increases. House Republicans have said reduced spending needs to be the focus and have rejected the president's fresh demand to include higher taxes as part of a compromise.

Governors said they are asking the Obama administration for more flexibility to deal with some of the potential cuts.

"We're just saying that as you identify federal cuts and savings, allow the states to be able to realize those savings, too," said Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, a Republican and the association's vice chairwoman.

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Follow Steve Peoples at: http://twitter.com/sppeoples and Ken Thomas at: http://twitter.com/AP_Ken_Thomas

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National Governors Association: http://www.nga.org