Things to Know About President Obama's Sequester


(Washington, DC) – President Obama has gone on defense this week, offering only scare tactics and partisan rhetoric to demand further tax increases to replace the sequester. The President seems to be more focused on waging a campaign than governing.

House Republicans have voted twice (once six months ago and once six weeks ago) to replace the arbitrary, across-the-board spending cuts in the sequester with targeted, common sense spending reforms. Without action from the Senate or President, the sequester will take effect Friday, March 1, 2013.  This does not include any tax increases.

The Republican House Conference released a new website providing facts, news, and a detailed deadline on the sequester. It can be accessed here-

The federal government will take in approximately $2.7 trillion and spend approximately $3.6 trillion in Fiscal Year 2013, the sequester represents $85 billion.

Below are the facts on the President’s sequester, examples of wasteful spending, and common sense alternatives.


1. The sequester was President Obama’s idea – he proposed it and insisted on it (Washington Post; 2/22/13).

2. House Republicans took steps to replace President Obama's sequestration, passing bills on two separate occasions. Neither of which  the Democratic-controlled Senate considered (H.R. 5652 & H.R. 6684).

3. No one should be talking about raising taxes on hardworking Americans with so much wasteful spending in Washington, especially when the federal government is set to take in more revenue than it ever has before in 2013 (Congressional Budget Office, February 2013).  The President also received $600 billion in new taxes during the fiscal cliff deal (CNN; 1/3/2013).


Improper Payments: In 2011, the government – by its own estimates – made $115.3 billion in improper payments. These are instances where individuals are receiving benefits or payments to which they are not entitled or for which proper documentation hasn’t been provided or where overpayments are being made.

Implementing the recommendations of the Inspector General for the Social Security Administration could save that program approximately $7.7 billion. 

Government Duplication: The non-partisan, Government Accountability Organization (GAO) released a report in 2011 outlining $100 billion in possible federal savings by eliminating duplication, fragmentation, and overlap.

Quick Examples:

• 94 federal initiatives to foster green building in the nonfederal sector

• 15 significant financial literacy programs or activities among 13 federal agencies

• 173 STEM education programs administered by 13 federal agencies that overlap to some degree

• 47 job training programs

The full GAO list is provided below:

1.    The fragmented food safety system
2.    Realigning the military’s medical command
3.    Streamlining 31 agencies that provide for urgent soldier needs
4.    Lack of coordination by counter-improvised explosive devices
5.    Streamlining military intelligence gathering
6.    Avoiding duplicate purchasing of tactical wheeled vehicles
7.    Improve oversight of Defense’ prepositioning and stockpiling programs
8.    Defense business systems can be modernized
9.    The fragmented economic development programs 
10.    Federal transportation programs that lack accountability
11.    Duplicative federal effort to provide water to the Mexico border region
12.    Conflicting federal vehicle energy goals
13.    Duplicative ethanol programs
14.    Government IT systems have divergent goals
15.    Duplicative federal data centers
16.    Duplicative contracting agencies
17.    Reviewing tax earmarks
18.    Modernizing health records by Defense and Veterans Affairs
19.    Controlling drug costs by Defense and Veterans Affairs
20.    Integrating public health information systems
21.    Integrating systems against biowarfare
22.    Duplication in securing the northern border
23.    Justice Department explosives investigations
24.    Transportation Security Agency’s assessments of commercial trucking
25.    Homeland Security can streamline information collecting with public transit agencies.
26.    FEMA can improve oversight of grants
27.    Duplicative development efforts in Afghanistan
28.    Overlapping arms control bureaus
29.    Administrative overlap on domestic food assistance
30.    Lack of coordination of federal homelessness programs
31.    Waste in transportation programs for the disadvantaged
32.    Duplication in job training programs
33.    Multiple programs ensuring teacher quality
34.    Fragmented financial literacy programs

Wasteful Government Spending:

• $3.2 billion in foreign aid provided to countries that don’t need it.

• The government will spend $2.2 billion in 2013 alone on the free cell phone program

• The Administration spent $51.6 million promoting Obamacare last year, including funds paid to public relations firms

• The IRS spends $4 million a year to run its own full-service TV production studio

• Federal agencies paid for 183 Conferences over the last several years that cost taxpayers more per attendee than the infamous October 2010 General Services Administration Las Vegas conference

• Maintenance of government properties that are either not in use or underutilized cost $1.7 billion in 2010 alone

• EPA gave over $100 million over the last ten years in grants to foreign countries

• The $47,000 cigarette smoking machine that can hold up to 40 cigarettes at a time that was just purchased by the Department of Veterans Affairs

• $1.2 million awarded by the National Science Foundation to pay seniors to play the video game “World of Warcraft” to see what impact it had on their brain


The President is using scare tactics to offer a false choice of draconian cuts or tax increases.  Instead, we can focus on common sense alternatives starting with ending the government’s record of wasteful spending.

Bipartisan Alternatives: There are savings to be achieved in mandatory programs that both sides have supported that could be used to replace the sequester:

• Reduce loopholes in the Medicaid program (aka Medicaid provider tax): At least $9.8 billion

• Increase upper-income means testing for Medicare: Approximately $20 billion

• Update the federal employee retirement system to more closely track the private sector: Approximately $21 billion

Common-Sense Alternatives: Other examples of common-sense alternatives that Republicans have put forward to the President’s sequester include:

• Requiring that individuals return overpayments for exchange subsidies in Obamacare: Approximately $44 billion

• Eliminate the Public Health Slush Fund in Obamacare (Democrats already agreed to reduce this fund to pay for other spending): Approximately $10 billion

• Require food stamp recipients to actually be eligible for the benefits they receive: Approximately $26 billion

• Stop replacing every federal bureaucrat when they retire: Approximately $6.5 billion in savings annually

• Compensate federal employees equivalent to their private sector counterpart: Approximately $32 billion in savings annually

• Reduce the federal employee travel budget by 25%: Approximately $2.25 billion in savings annually

• Focus military research on military needs: Approximately $6 billion in savings annually

• Require that government contract bidding is competitive: Approximately $19 billion in savings annually


Bucshon: Obama's budget scare tactics phony

In-Depth: Larry Bucshon Discusses Forced Budget Cuts Discussions in Washington