Sunday, March 10, 2013

Politicizing the Sequester

Rep. Crawford with members of Arkansas's
School Nutrition Association
U.S. Rick Crawford, AR-01: In my column last week, I expressed concerns over national political leaders' unwillingness to come together and avoid $85 billion in arbitrary spending cuts known as the sequester. Like you, I grow more frustrated with each passing day at Washington's inability to work together for the common good. This week, it became clear the Obama Administration is doing all they can to heighten the strain of the sequester.

Emails between officials at the Department of Agriculture show the Obama Administration's effort to intentionally undermine government operations in order to score political points. A regional official with USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service asked his superiors about the flexibility he had in trimming his program's budget in light of the sequester. His superiors told him: "We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 States in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs. So, it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be."

According to emails, the response came from someone in the USDA's Office of Budget and Program Analysis, which is responsible for "coordinating the preparation of the Department's budget estimates, legislative reports and regulations. The Office of Budget and Program Analysis provides direction and administration of the Department's budgetary functions including development, presentation, and administration of the budget," according to the agency's website.

This leaked email proves the Obama Administration is playing political games with the sequester. Further emails from USDA officials express concern over this policy and the impact it would have on producers. It's troubling that President Obama is not willing to put the good of the American people ahead of his political agenda and it is unconscionable that high-ranking government officials would be more interested in maximizing the pain of the sequester instead of being focused on helping Americans through the process. As we move forward, I plan to hold the Obama Administration accountable for their actions that have the potential to unnecessarily burden American families.

Tags: U.S. House, Representative, Rick Crawford, AR-01, the sequester, politicizing the sequester

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