Sander Levin says Congress isn't doing its job

Mar 1, 2013

The across the board spending cuts, known as 'sequestration' are set to begin today, unless Congress comes to an agreement to avert the $85 billion in military and domestic spending cuts.

The White House says Michigan would face about $140 million in cuts if the sequester takes effect at midnight.

A detailed overview of where those cuts would be seen in Michigan can be found here.

On Morning Edition, Christina Shockley spoke with Congressman Sander Levin (D-MI 9th District) about what sequestration would mean in Michigan and the nation.

Levin said he is not confident that Congress will come up with an agreement by midnight.

He says the areas that would see the cuts the soonest would be unemployment insurance and cuts to defense.

“But some of the impact will begin to be felt in the next few weeks,” Levin said. “Then there is the economic uncertainty that would be increased. The Congressional Budget Office predicts that there will be a serious impact on economic growth at a time when we need to stimulate it - not inhibit it.”

Levin says he wants to see Congress get a hold of the budget deficit.

“We’ve already had a $1.5 trillion reduction in terms of the budget and revenues of about a third of that,” he says.

Levin says there are disagreements between Democratic and Republican lawmakers on whether to close loopholes, look at revenues, or only focus on making cuts to the budget.

“There has to be a balanced approach,” Levin said. “This is a battle between those who say 'let’s have a balanced approach' and those who essentially say, ‘no, cuts only.’ I don’t think a meat ax approach is the right approach here.”

But Levin says he thinks lawmakers will eventually come up with a balanced approach to the budget.

“The president is going to say today at the White House that he has come forth with substantial cuts with some revenues and we have to proceed and have some kind of a balance here. He is willing to sit down and find that balance. But it takes two sides to find that balance,” Levin says.

These cuts were never supposed to happen and could have been prevented.  Shockley wondered what Levin would say to the people of Michigan who feel like lawmakers aren't doing their jobs.

Levin agreed with that argument.

“I think that’s true,” Levin said. “I think in order to do our job, we have to have some openness in terms of point of view and we have to have some willingness to sit down and discuss this.”