Upton sees sequestration kicking inPublished 7:51pm Monday, January 7, 2013
Congress kept the country from plunging off the fiscal cliff Jan. 1 with a two-month delay of automatic spending cuts called sequestration.
U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, in an interview Monday with Leader Publications’ editorial board, predicted sequestration “is likely to happen — $1.2 trillion over 10 years, $110 billion the first year.”
“I don’t think they’re going to find the offset for that in the next seven weeks,” he said. “The other big issue is the debt ceiling. The president is going to look to raise it probably another $2 trillion to $18 trillion. If it goes up, I think it will be tied, dollar for dollar, to spending reforms.”
“We were all dismayed, believe me, with the (fiscal cliff) process. It’s the first time Congress has been in session with votes on New Year’s Day since the 1950s,” Upton said.
Upton the optimist forecasts “a race between the House, Senate and White House to see who can get the first proposal out there to begin the debate. We have a Republican retreat Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and will have a lot of discussion there.”
With national debt exceeding $16 trillion, the current path is unsustainable and poses a major obstacle to real economic growth and job creation, he said.
While far from perfect, the American Tax Relief Act to avert the cliff provides permanent tax relief for Michigan families and small businesses otherwise faced with a significant tax hike this year.
Upton said the plan begins the process of addressing the real debt driver — spending — and sets the stage to offset the looming sequester with thoughtful savings.
Upton’s Energy and Commerce Committee identified almost $100 billion in targeted savings over the next decade to offset arbitrary cuts. These passed the House as part of the Spending Reduction Act of 2012 and await Senate consideration.
Upton supports measures such as the Balanced Budget Amendment to the Constitution, the presidential line-item veto and the current House earmark moratorium to cut deficit spending and to bring down debt.
“We didn’t spend at least $100,000 allocated to our office,” Upton said, adding he anticipates tax reform coming to the floor “for a real debate early summer. We have the highest corporate tax rate in the world at 35 percent.”
Upton, 59, referred to a report in Monday’s Washington Post that “we have 10,000 new seniors hitting age 65 every single day. By 2030, the rising number of elderly eligible for Medicare will go from 50 million today to 78 million.”
As implementation of The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) ramps up, one of the Sixth District’s largest employers, Stryker, for example, intends to lay off a thousand employees due to a new 2.3-percent tax on medical devices.
“Some fear it might apply to phones with apps,” Upton said. “Michigan decided to not set up its own health exchanges. We intend to bring in Gov. Snyder to testify about what led to that decision. There’s no penalty. Michigan will be folded into a national plan I presume HHS (Health and Human Services) is going to run.”