By now you have probably heard that Rep. Billy Long (R-7) thinks that Missourians really want the sequester to hit harder – the cuts weren’t deep enough to satisfy them:
“The people that I’ve talked to seem to be doing well. In fact, when I got [sic] out in restaurants here in town [i.e. in Springfield], people come up to me. They want to see more sequestration, not less,” he said, according to KOLR 10 television.
At least now we know where Billy does his constituent outreach. Nevertheless, it’s not hard to make the case that when it comes to economic pain, he’s talking to the wrong people. Yesterday, we outlined here some sequestration cuts that have already hit home, and, as Think Progress notes, the pain has just barely gotten started:
… Cuts to defense spending will hurt the state, which is home to two large installations, Fort Leonard Wood and Whiteman Air Force Base. Whiteman officials have already cut flight training time by 10 percent, eliminated non-essential travel, and frozen civilian hiring.
The pain could pick up speed as the year continues. The state’s Head Start program is likely to drop 1,200 children in total, and its education system overall will lose $11.9 million in funding, putting 160 education jobs at risk, serving 17,000 fewer students, and funding 60 fewer schools. Up to 8,000 civilian defense employees could be furloughed, resulting in the loss of $40 million in wages. A variety of other programs will lose significant money, including meals for seniors, air and water protection, domestic violence services, job search assistance programs, and law enforcement and public safety.
Of course Billy’s budget cutting fervor has its limits. When asked late in February if congressmen should have their pay cut in the same way that sequestration would cut other federal employees pay, Billy just couldn’t see it:
Asked if he should have to take a pay cut in his $174,000 salary, Long tells a CNN reporter, “I don’t think so. Raise our pay.”
To be fair, this sentiment, sincere though it may have been, was directly contradicted by a press release that Billy had circulated a few days earlier in which he took credit for voting for H.R. 273, calling for cuts to the pay of all federal workers, including congressmen – which, it seems, he really did. So what was behind this vote? Was Long confused, or did he just give in to peer pressure and go along with the GOP majority to get along? I guess they don’t call it “lock-step” for nothing. But it’s gratifying to learn that it hurt him to do it.
UPDATE:Seems Billy really has been hearing from all the wrong people – plenty of his constituents aren’t too happy about his take on what’s happening in his district vis-a-vis the sequester cuts.
Also, The Erstwhile Conservative’s Duane Graham, who I believe is a resident of Billy’s hometown, Springfield, provides some insights on how and where Billy gathers his insights – such as restaurants serving 30 dollar entrees.