BOISE -- In Washington D.C., there's no word of any progress on a deal to avoid sequestration (deep, across-the-board automatic budget cuts to that could cost some people their jobs or businesses). Sen. Jim Risch was in Boise Thursday talking about the possible sequester and how it might be avoided.
The Idaho Republican spoke to a crowded room of members of the Boise Chamber of Commerce. "The condition that we're in today financially is frightening," Risch said.
He focused on the national debt and looming sequestration. Risch wants the sequester to be avoided, but doesn't believe it will be. "March 1st, there is going to be a sequester," he said.
Risch says the presidential administration will make sequestration as painful as possible to try to force a deal. "It will depend upon how difficult the bureaucracy makes it for Americans. Because, there's some places where they can stop providing services and say, 'See? Ha ha. This is what the sequester did.'"
In fairness, the president can only do so much since the Budget Control Act (sequestration) was made law by Congress in 2011, and requires across-the-board cuts. Risch says he's in favor of compromising with Democrats to avoid the sequester, but isn't willing, like many of them, to raise taxes on the wealthy (or at all).
He wants to compromise on what spending to gradually cut and believes you can cut from every single agency. "That's the way we should get out of the financial mess that we're in. We should start ratcheting back, easy, gently, and slowly, and we can reverse this thing."
Risch points out that the country spends $11 billion a day and only takes in $6-and-a-half billion a day. But again, he doesn't want to cut that borrowed $4-and-a-half billion immediately. That's because once you paid for Social Security, Medicare, and interest on the national debt, you wouldn't have any money left.
"We're Americans," said Risch. "We've been through tough times before. We can get through this. But, it's going to take some common sense to do it."
Risch says it's probably too early to tell if the cuts from the sequester would affect the Idaho Statehouse, and possible cuts to federal funds coming into the state. But he said it probably would.
If the sequester does happen, not all of the cuts would go into effect immediately on March 1st. But administration spokespeople say those cuts will definitely be felt over the next few months.