Victoria Advocate: Eliminating Furloughs and Needed Finding Savings

By March 20, 2013 Op-Eds No Comments

If someone managing their family’s budget needed to make a 3% cut, they could choose to make it painful, or they could choose to make it easy.

A family could forgo the household’s cable and watch television on Hulu. Or eat out less, use coupons to buy groceries, or rent a movie instead of going to see one. These are relatively easy savings that may be inconvenient, but they wouldn’t disrupt a family’s daily life that much.

On the other hand, a family could decide the only way to cut 3% out of their budget would be to not pay the rent, or electric bill. Those choices would be very painful and disruptive.

The government faces similar choices under spending limits under the sequester. The President is choosing the painful option with sequestration cuts for what seems like nothing more than political gain. He is choosing to talk about furloughs and closing the White House for tours instead of eliminating wasteful spending or duplicative programs.

One of the local effects of the President’s poor choices is the possibility that the Federal Aviation Administration could have to shut down the Victoria airport control tower, greatly limiting travel in and out of a growing area.

That is unacceptable. Victoria’s economy is vibrant because of its dependable workforce, central location, and great transportation infrastructure by rail, highway, waterway, and hopefully still air. Limiting travel to and from the area will negatively affect the Golden Crescent’s continued economic success.

To prevent those cuts from being realized, a continuing resolution was passed last week that gives the Pentagon more leeway to put money towards beneficial and needed programs, like essential transportation needs or the cost saving work being done for our military at the Corpus Christi Army Depot. It also provides additional funding to the Department of Defense for their operations and maintenance budget.

Along those same lines, I introduced a bill called the Protecting America’s Civilian Employees (PACE) Act which will force the President’s budget office to find less painful savings, like cutting wasteful or duplicative programs, and keep our federal employees from facing any furloughs or reductions in workforce.

The President, Harry Reid, and the Senate Democrats have tried to convince the American people that finding savings AND keeping our federal workforce fully employed is impossible. That’s just not true.

There is so much wasteful Washington spending that could be eliminated, it’s hard to believe. For example, taxpayers paid $340 million last year for 894 federal government conferences. Each year, $4 million comes out of our taxes to pay for an IRS television production studio. Furthermore, in 2012 alone, there were 16,906 unimplemented Executive Branch Inspector General recommendations that would save taxpayers more than $67 billion.

These are the types of spending that should be cut. Though these cuts may be inconvenient, they won’t disrupt government, military operations, or American families the way that painful cuts, like furloughing employees, would.

Federal agencies must look at their budgets, cut out what they don’t need, like luxury travel or the billions spent on duplicative and overlapping programs, and keep federal employees operating at 100 percent.

Getting American’s finances in order will create jobs, economic growth and prosperity. It will protect the services and programs like Medicare that people count on. And, most important, it creates a bright future for our children.

Rep. Blake Farenthold
The Victoria Advocate