Alaskans benefit from a sound federal budget
Prior to construction of the Alaska oil pipeline, Alaska’s economy was principally financed with federal monies. The federal government still provides substantial funding to the state in the form of federal land control, military personnel and facilities. The federal government also funds veterans health care, Indian health care, Social Security benefits, Medicaid, Medicare benefits, not to mention the Housing and Urban Development agency, environmental protection and other federal agencies.
Alaska has always received more federal monies than Alaskans have paid in taxes; but this imbalance is threatened by the “fiscal cliff” caused by unrestrained federal deficit spending.
In 2011, federal legislators enacted the ”Budget Control Act,” also called “Sequester.” The Sequester requires $1.2 trillion in federal spending cuts starting in 2013 and lasting until 2021. These cuts involve a $600 billion dollar decrease in defense spending, so there is little doubt that Alaska will receive far less federal money.
Sequester cuts are automatic, but can be mitigated by having a budget. The House of Representatives has passed a bipartisan budget deal which now goes to the Senate. While the House budget is not perfect, it prevents another government shutdown, which affects all aspects of the Alaskan economy.
The last government shutdown was based upon the Republicans supporting a strategy of linking government funding to the repeal of the Obama health care law, even though the “Tea Party” knew the government shutdown would ultimately fail.
Our own Congressman, Don Young is known for his conservative credentials; but he put national responsibility ahead of the myopic strategy of the tea party activists. Now Senators Begich and Murkowski need to get on board and support a two-year federal budget.
The budget deal mitigates across-the-board mandatory cuts required by the “Sequester.” In short, cuts to the military and domestic programs will not be as drastic. A federal budget will benefit Alaska and not shut down the federal government.
Contact Don Young at 202-225-5765 and thank him for his vote. Contact Lisa Murkowski (202-224-6665) and Mark Begich (202-224-3004) and tell them to vote for a two-year budget.
Postscript: A two year budget was passed into law on December 18. Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Mark Begich voted for the budget. Let them know you appreciate the work.
Len Kelley is the Older Persons Action Group board president.