Coffman offers alternative to looming sequester

Posted on: 9:41 am, February 21, 2013, by , updated on: 01:34pm, February 21, 2013

Congressman Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, during an Armed Services Committee Hearing last year.

Congressman Mike Coffman, R-Aurora, during an Armed Services Committee Hearing last year.

DENVER — With President Obama and GOP leaders in Washington already assigning blame to each other for the looming sequester, Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman is still thinking about how to actually avoid the coming $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts to domestic and defense spending.

The sequester is the result of a 2011 deal between the White House and Congress designed to be so distasteful that it would force both parties to agree on a broader deal to reduce spending and borrowing by the government.

With both sides spending the remaining days before March 1, when the cuts kick in, at campaign-style public events and press conferences trying to pin the blame on one another, much of Washington appears resigned to the fact that a deal is unlikely.

But that isn’t stopping Coffman, suddenly one of the most vulnerable incumbents in Congress, from trying.

Next week, Coffman plans to introduce legislation to prevent the sequester in exchange for more targeted cuts, especially to the Pentagon, which faces close to $1 trillion in cuts over the next decade if the sequester goes through.

“Our country deserves better than sequestration,” Coffman said.  “Sequestration will jeopardize our national security and hurt our military personnel, their families and our veterans.”

The plan from Coffman, a former Iraq War veteran who has long called for reductions in defense spending, calls for a total of $500 billion in cuts, including saving $53 billion by using local civilian contractors instead of military personnel to perform commercial-type activities on military bases; saving $20 billion by reducing U.S. forces in Europe; and saving $36.7 billion by reducing the number of civilian positions at the Pentagon through attrition.

“We can and must reduce government spending at all levels, including at the Pentagon,” Coffman said in a statement announcing the legislation.

“The greatest threat to our national security right now is our rising and unsustainable debt levels and no area of the federal government should be off limits when it comes to reducing spending.”