03/27/13 — Holding discusses budget cuts, immigration and gun control

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Holding discusses budget cuts, immigration and gun control

By Steve Herring
Published in News on March 27, 2013 1:46 PM

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U.S. Rep. George Holding

Allowing some federal agencies, particularly the Department of Defense, flexibility in implementing sequestration cuts should help them continue to fulfill their mission by targeting specific areas instead of making across-the-board cuts, freshman Congressman George Holding said during a Tuesday morning stop in Goldsboro.

Holding, a Republican, represents District 13, which includes a large portion of Wayne County.

Sequestration is a "bad way" to make the cuts, Holding said. It was made worse because federal agencies failed to prepare for them even though they have known since 2011 that the cuts were pending, he noted.

Speaking before a small crowd of local civic, business and elected leaders at the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce, Holding fielded questions on issues ranging from the cuts and their possible impact on Seymour Johnson Air Force Base to immigration reform to gun control -- issues that he said have been common themes as he travels around the district.

The continuing budget resolution passed by Congress funds the government through the end of the fiscal year and addresses the sequester by providing the flexibility in making the cuts in specific programs instead of across-the-board, he said.

"They can shift money around," he said. "We are not talking a tremendous amount of money. We are talking $70 or $80 billion dollars across a budget that is nearly $3 trillion. There are 1,000 billion in a trillion."

Holding did not comment specifically on the impact of the cuts on Seymour Johnson. But he said he does not think they would have any impact on decisions based on the Base Closure and Realignment Commission process.

"I do not know what it (BRAC) is going to look like, but the best way to prepare for it is to ensure that North Carolina lives up to its motto of being the most military friendly state in the country. I think you are working on that in Wayne County."

Holding said that he does not think gun control legislation will pass. He agreed that the county needs to address the immigration issue since every other civilized country had been able to do.

However, the immigration debate is clouded by a "red herring" issue that legislation needs to provide a path to citizenship, he said. The vast majority of immigrants are not seeking citizenship, Holding said. They want to work, make money and will eventually return to their native country, he said.

Most of Holding's comments centered on the budget cuts.

Because of automatic budget increases the baseline for the cuts do not start from what was spent last year, he said. Rather it is what was spent last years plus the automatic increases, some as much as 10 percent, he said.

"So it is cuts in growth," he said. "We need to get beyond just cutting the growth. We need to cut the substance of what is there. We need to cut the size and scope of federal government."

The Budget Control Act of 2011 created a super committee to come up with the cuts, which is another bad idea, he said. The committee couldn't come up with a plan so it passed it on to a sequester -- the across-the-board cuts.

Both are abdications of legislators' responsibility, Holding said.

The next step in the sequester process will be passing a budget for fiscal year 2014, he said.

"The House has passed its budget which balances over 10 years," Holding said. "The Senate has passed its budget, so the next step is a conference between the two budgets and ultimately pass a budget for 2014. In the Budget Control Act of 2011, which is where the sequester comes from, it called for cuts over 10 years of over a trillion dollars.

"So the budget the House passed takes into account those cuts. It will be the law of the land if it passes. There will continue to be real spending cuts which we have to do. The reason why the sequester has been so onerous is because I think a lot of these agencies never thought it was going to happen.

"But the light at the end of the tunnel, I think, is that the Senate finally has passed a budget. It took the House passing a bill to say that if the Senate didn't pass a budget that you are not going to get your salary."

However, it is an "all-out tax-and-spend" budget that increases taxes, spending, never balances and adds to the national debt, Holding said.

"But at least it is a start," he said. "They put cards on the table. So at least we have gotten back where our system of government works."

A number of Democrats voted against the Senate budget proposal, a sign of bipartisanship, he pointed out.

Holding said he supported the House budget that balances over 10 years and pays off the national debt over 35 years.

Hopefully, the budget that comes out of the conference committee will be one that puts the country back on a footing of "financial sanity" and that recognizes the government has a spending problem, he said.