TINKER AIR FORCE BASE — Sen. Jim Inhofe delivered a political message to members of the Air Force Association on Tuesday at Tinker Air Force Base, offering little hope that budget cuts prompting the furloughs of civilian workers at Tinker might end, and placing the blame squarely at the feet of President Barack Obama.
Inhofe, R-Tulsa, spoke for about an hour, talking at length about his desire to increase military spending but offering no plan for how to bridge gaps between the Republican U.S. House of Representatives and the Democratic-led Senate.
“There is going to be a need for dramatic cuts,” Inhofe said. “I don't see any other way in the next short while to keep that from happening.”
Inhofe said any budget that might come out of either house in Congress likely wouldn't be able to win enough votes to pass in the other chamber.
With Congress unable to agree on a budget, automatic cuts known as sequestration went into effect in March.
Those cuts were implemented across nearly all federal departments, and have forced the furlough of civilian defense workers, including thousands at Tinker.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel did offer some good news for those workers Tuesday when he announced their number of furlough days is being reduced from 11 to six. But more furloughs might be needed next year if Congress can't reach a budget deal.
Inhofe said he'd like to see cuts implemented in areas other than defense but did not offer hope such a deal could be done before congressional elections next year.
Although most of the discord preventing a budget deal has centered in Congress, Inhofe attributed the sequestration cuts to Obama, whom he called “the worst president in history” on national defense.
“I don't want to sound disrespectful of the office,” Inhofe said. “But I am disrespectful of this particular president. He is intentionally doing what he can to disarm America.”
The White House has blamed intransigence in Congress, particularly in the Republican-led House, for the sequestration cuts going into effect.