SUMTER, SC — U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., expects the sequestration — dramatic cutbacks throughout the federal government including the ordering of one of the fighter squadrons stationed at Shaw Air Force Base to stand down — to last at least through the current fiscal year.
Speaking at a Sumter Rotary Club meeting Monday, Mulvaney said he hopes the spending cuts allow the government to learn some lessons on operating more effectively.
“If the lesson that we learn from going through the sequester is that there are ways to run our military and our government in a more efficient manner, then this will have been a great success,” Mulvaney said. “If all that we do is hollow out our military, then it will have been a tremendous waste.”
The decision by the Air Force to stand down the 77th Fighter Squadron, also known as “The Gamblers,” came upon their return from a deployment in Afghanistan last month. The order was part of the Air Force’s need to trim 45,000 flying training hours because of the cuts to the military’s operations and maintenance finances. In total, about one-third of all active duty combat planes are affected by the cuts, the Air Force said in April.
Civilian workers at the base also are being required to take 14 furlough days, and the base has cancelled Jammin’ July 4th , its annual Independence Day fireworks show and carnival held at Dillon Park.
Mulvaney, who said he was visiting with Shaw officials during his trip to the area, said most of the moves made by the military while facing drastic cuts have made sense and are illustrating the need to use more common-sense approaches to spending.
“I looked at some of the things that the Air Force recommended, and as a business person my immediate reaction was that’s what I would have done if my business was in the same circumstance,” Mulvaney said.
The congressman, known for addressing several topics in an informal way during his town-hall meetings, covered a broad range of topics while speaking to the Rotarians in attendance.
Mulvaney expects there is a possibility of additional investigative committees looking into how the federal government handled the attack on the American embassy.
“The credibility of the nation is on the line,” Mulvaney said.
In addition, Mulvaney praised the work of fellow congressman Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., on pursuing finding out what exactly happened.
“I have no idea where they’re going to lead. I don’t know when the next round of hearings are, but I do know it’s getting to the point where enough people are asking enough questions to where I don’t think this issue is going away until we get to the bottom of things,” Mulvaney said.
The congressman said he has become doubtful that any kind of meaningful immigration reform will take place this year. In the long run, he is a little more optimistic of more far-reaching reform eventually occurring because both sides of the aisle are finally addressing similar issues.
“The simple fact that we’re having a substantive dialogue and debate on the topic is a dramatically different attitude,” Mulvaney said, referencing border security and how to deal with the current illegal immigrants already within American borders, among other topics. “I finally hear the parties talking the same language,” he said.
Health care reform
Mulvaney said the current methods of paying for health care needs to be changed dramatically, but the legislation about to go into action, often referred to as Obamacare, is not the way to operate. The legislation, he said, doesn’t actually try to improve the health of the population.
“What are we doing? The discussion has not been about health care, it’s been about health insurance,” Mulvaney said, adding the healthiest people in the country are going to face the most dramatic impact.
“If you’re young and healthy and have a good job, you’re one of the losers in this. Your health insurance premium is about to go up dramatically,” he said.
The congressman said he was surprised the Senate wasn’t able to pass a background check bill, blaming the recent failure on the poor wording of the proposed legislation.
“Everybody, I think, supports better background checks,” Mulvaney said, adding that both sides of the aisle agree on keeping weapons out of the hands of “dangerously mentally ill people.”
“Why the Senate couldn’t write a bill like that is beyond me,” he said, saying the recent proposal had too many potential misinterpretations that ultimately killed the proposal. “When you write a bill, it has to be well-written,” he said.
Contact Braden Bunch at (803) 774-1201. The State’s Kelly Davis contributed.