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Sen. Mark Warner on why the sequester cuts are 'stupid'

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) waits to speak with members of the media at the election night event.

Congress is off this week, and lawmakers are back home in their districts, doing town halls and meeting with constituents. What makes this congressional break a little more newsy than others is that the sequester cuts are due to hit March 1. These cuts are big and broad, and many senators and representatives think they could do great harm to their states.

Virginia Democrat Mark Warner sits on the Senate Budget Committee and he says that the sequester plan is "the most stupid option possible."

The cuts, should they happen, will be across the board without any regard to what programs are more valuable than others. Every budget will be affected equally from the Federal Aviation Administration to the Food and Drug Administration, and cuts to the Defense Department will hit hard in Virginia, which is Sen. Warner's home state.

"Just like families, when the military goes out and buys 10 tanks instead of one tank we get a discount," he explains. "Because each account will get cut equally, some of these contracts will have to be broken and the discount that we recieve will end up costing us more than the savings."

He adds: "When you do this across the board without regard to merit, the American public will have a right to be outraged at all of us."

So why create the sequester when it was doomed from the start? Well, says Warner, it goes way back to the summer of 2011 when Congress was fighting over whether to raise the debt ceiling. "It was set up around the whole debacle around the debt ceiling ...with the expectation that the so-called supercommittee would do its job."

But, he says, that congressional "super" committee forged to come up with a deficit reduction plan didn't do its job, which leaves us where we are now.

"There are a lot of folks in Washington that, quite honestly, I'm not sure want to reach the compromise that we need," says Warner. "We have to do more revenues, we have to reform entitlements, we have to do cutting -- but there seems to be a lot more about who is going to win the political argument of the day or the week versus how do we make sure we get this economy going."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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