WASHINGTON - Nearly three months after the federal government slashed discretionary spending, the region's congressional delegation remains very much divided on what the impact of those cuts will be.
WASHINGTON — Nearly three months after the federal government slashed discretionary spending, the region’s congressional delegation remains very much divided on what the impact of those cuts will be.
During the second day of the Dayton Development Coalition’s annual “fly-in” to Washington, D.C., federal lawmakers focused heavily on the spending cuts, known as sequestration. The cuts have galvanized the Dayton region, home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the state’s largest single-site employer and largest military installation.
“It shouldn’t have happened,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio. “It still shouldn’t happen.”
Brown said the cuts would do little to improve the economy and could hurt it.
“Cuts in spending directly cost jobs,” he said, saying that Congress should work to close tax loopholes in order to cut the deficit. “When you cut dollars from Meals on Wheels or Dayton Children’s Hospital, it costs jobs.”
But Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, said the cuts weren’t necessarily a bad thing.
“Let’s be honest,” he said. “We actually saved the taxpayer some money.”
Lawmakers also disagreed on how the federal government might be able to extricate itself from the across-the-board cuts — or even whether to do so. Brown said the key to undoing the cuts — expected to hit more than $1.2 trillion through the next decade — would be for the House to accept a Senate budget that would effectively undo the cuts.
But Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said the budget is “a nonbinding piece of legislation. ... It doesn’t say ‘stop sequestration and do this instead,’ and that’s what the Senate needs to do.” He said if Congress reverses the cuts, it likely will happen during a coming debate on the debt ceiling.
Turner also said he worried that the cuts might lead to the closing of military bases.
The base-closing process, said Rep. Steve Stivers, “is both an opportunity and a threat.” He said the state fared well during the last base-closing process, both at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Defense Supply Center Columbus.
Jordan, meanwhile, defended against criticism that he advocates cutting spending but has defended the Lima Army Tank Plant, a manufacturer in his congressional district that builds Abrams tanks.
He said he looked at the issue under the filter of “what’s in the best interest of the national defense.”
“If I genuinely believed this was going to save money and not jeopardize the national defense, and they said, ‘You’ve got to get rid of the tank plant,’ OK, I’d have to suck it up and live with it,” he said. “I’m not convinced that’s the case.”