These and similar admonitions dont phase Rep. Mick Mulvaney, an Indian Land Republican starting his second House term.
Mulvaney accused Obama and his Democratic congressional allies of exaggerating the impact of the forced cuts, which he said would reduce the governments projected $900 billion deficit this year by just $43 billion, or 4.8 percent.
Im not concerned about all the Chicken Little anguish about air planes crashing into each other because there arent enough flight controllers or about food poisoning because there arent enough food inspectors, Mulvaney said. To me, thats a lot of fear-mongering and hype.
Mulvaney, saying he prefers targeted spending reductions over across-the-board cuts, noted that he and South Carolinas then-four other Republican House members broke with most other lawmakers from their party and voted against the system of forced cuts when Congress set it up in August 2011 as part of legislation to raise the federal debt ceiling.
While he said the automatic cuts, known as sequestration, would take non-defense federal funding only back to 2008 levels, Mulvaney acknowledged that Obama holds a stronger negotiating hand, with polls showing that Americans by large margins would blame Republicans more than Democrats for its impact.
Im afraid that if sequestration goes into effect, it will be used as an excuse for everything that goes wrong for the next four years, he said. If we have another Benghazi episode (the September 2012 consulate attack in Libya), it will be blamed on sequester. If we have another Newton (school shooting in December 2012), it will be blamed on sequester. Thats the risk we run in trying to cut the budget. I dont see any way out of it.
In Columbia, Sue Berkowitz has a different view on the front lines of helping low-income folks cope from her post as head of the S.C. Appleseed Legal Justice Center.
The hardest hit are going to be our really poor and our really rural areas where we already have little hope and not exemplary outcomes, Berkowitz said. Real people are going to be devastated by this. Its not a game, and its not political gamesmanship.
Rep. Jeff Duncan, a Laurens, S.C., Republican also starting his second term, said the federal agencies should be able to handle what he described as relatively minor spending cuts in order to help protect his constituents and other South Carolinians.
Duncan said hes returned more than $400,000 in funds allocated to him for staff and office expenses, a 15 percent refund to the U.S. Treasury to help pay down the debt, and that executive agencies need to do their share.
Im concerned about where these cuts are going to be applied, Duncan said. Thats a management issue. It comes down to operating like a business. Every agency should be able to absorb these cuts.