By Sen. Rand Paul
Last Tuesday, President Obama proclaimed that the sequester's "brutal" and "severe" cuts will "eviscerate" America's domestic spending.
But "eviscerate" is not the adjective I would use; in fact, I believe the sequester is a pittance.
First, I want to point out that these "brutal" and "severe" cuts were President Obama's answer to the 2011 debt-ceiling debate that was later passed by Congress; however, I voted against the sequester in 2011 because I knew that this was not the solution to our spending problem.
I believe that the sequester is a pittance that does not cut enough. If the sequester were to take effect, our spending would only be cut by 2.3%. Let me repeat that — these "eviscerating" cuts will leave our country with 97.7% of our current spending, cutting a mere $85 billion from this years $3.6 trillion budget.
The sequester barely begins to skim the surface of the problem. Since taking office, President Obama has increased federal domestic agencies' budget by 17%. This 17% increase since 2008 will have to endure a 5% cut.
Even with the sequester, the federal government will spend more in 2013 than it did in 2012 — or more than $15 billion
This expansion of government is equivalent to the entire chain of Whole Foods or Macy's department stores, in just one year.
President Obama has dramatically expanded our federal government, and the American taxpayers should not have to endure more tax increases to fund it.
We have to start cutting back.
The forced sequester is not the most ideal scenario, which is why I have an alternative plan that invokes targeted spending to eliminate any threat of layoffs.
President Obama has provoked a sense of unrest within our nation by using outlandish rhetoric and making false claims about the effects of sequestration.
As opposed to stirring the pot, he should attempt to solve the problem.
What President Obama needs to realize is his fiscal cliffs, ceilings and sequesters ruin American confidence and make people wonder if we are working in their best interests.
As Peggy Noonan of the Wall Street Journal pointed out, "Government freakout carries a price. It wears people down. It doesn't inject a sense of energy, purpose or confidence in those who do business in America. It does the opposite."
As opposed to standing in front of a TV camera and some local police officials threatening the loss of their jobs, why doesn't President Obama work with Congress to come up with a solution?
As opposed to invoking fear, why doesn't he go to these same extreme lengths to create a sense of stability?
Instead of threatening the jobs of Americans, why doesn't he offer a way to cut spending without implementing layoffs?
Last week, I unveiled a plan to offset the anticipated layoffs by cutting unnecessary spending within our federal budget.
The first way to do this is by bringing the federal employee pay in line with the private jobs.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, the average compensation of a federal employee is 16% more that their private equivalents. By reducing salaries to align more with their counterparts, we could save as much as $32 billion per year.
Next we must stop hiring federal employees.
As I noted earlier, since taking office President Obama has increased domestic agencies' budgets by 17%. Every year thousands of federal employees retire or leave their jobs.
In 2011 roughly 62,000 people ended their careers with the government. By not replacing all federal bureaucrats we could save anywhere from $60 billion to $200 billion over the course of 10 years.
Another way to reduce spending is by reducing federal employee travel by 25%.
The latest data provided by the General Services Administration suggested that the federal government spent $9 billion on travel. Reducing these travel funds by 25% will save us $2.25 billion per year.
Next, we must focus military research strictly on military needs. According to research done by Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., $ 6 billion has bee
n spent by the Department of Defense on research that has nothing to do with military or military-related health inquiries.
To save $19 billion annually, we should require competitive bidding for government contracts. By repealing the Davis-Bacon Act and ending blocked government contracts the government could save money by making pay competitive to all government employees.
The Heritage Foundation estimates that this will save $9 billion a year.
Also, many contracts in the federal government are provided to companies without requiring a competitive bid — or the opportunity for the government to contract work at the lowest price possible.
This provision would require the government to competitively bid all contracts. It would save an additional $10 billion a year.
Finally, we must stop giving foreign aid to countries that burn our flag. We spend more than $40 billion a year on foreign aid.
When we're dealing with a budget crisis here at home, it's only responsible to keep this money here. This provision would eliminate half the foreign aid budget.
Sequestration is inevitable, necessary, and only a first step. Our nation's leaders should be coming up with even more solutions to our debt problem.
Not every federal dollar is well spent and in order to dig our nation out of this financial hole, we must make real, clear and sensible cuts.
A true leader would look for a way to stabilize our nation by solving the crisis, which is why I have unveiled this alternative plan.