Last updated: February 27. 2013 11:59PM - 2545 Views

Senator Robert Casey discusses various topics in politics with the Times Leader editorial board on Friday. (PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER)
Senator Robert Casey discusses various topics in politics with the Times Leader editorial board on Friday. (PETE G. WILCOX/THE TIMES LEADER)
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U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Wednesday said the U.S. economy is already in a fragile state and would only worsen under sequester, which will allow billions of dollars in indiscriminate cuts to go into effect.

In a teleconference call Wednesday, Casey, D-Scranton, detailed an alternative plan that will reduce spending and generate revenue through a “balanced approach.” Casey warned of the potential adverse economic impact that could occur if the sequester takes effect and he called on Congress to come together on “commonsense steps” to avoid it.

“Rather than slashing programs that are critical to job growth and vital to our communities in Pennsylvania, we need a balanced approach in the best interest of our economy,” Casey said.

“In order to strengthen the economy, we need to reduce the deficit in a balanced way by cutting government waste and closing tax loopholes for wealthy special-interests. Allowing these indiscriminate cuts to wreak havoc is inexcusable when there is an alternative.”

The sequester could result in some 78,454 jobs lost in Pennsylvania — adding to the already 520,000 people out of work in the state, the senator said.“The sequester is already having an adverse effect on the economy,” Casey said, “but this would create more uncertainty and anxiety at a time when we already have too much of both.”

Even if people don’t lose their jobs immediately after Friday’s deadline for the sequester, he said, the process of furloughing and the waiting will generate angst in the workplace that will impair the slowly recovering economy.

Still hopeful of a bipartisan agreement before the deadline, Casey said neither Democrats nor Republicans like the sequester and what it will cause.

“And neither party should support it,” he said. “We have to continue talking and hopefully come to an agreement before we start slashing programs that are vital to our communities.”

Casey noted President Barack Obama is meeting Friday with the four leaders of Congress — House Speaker John Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell — to discuss the sequester.

He said while he remains hopeful of reaching an agreement — the Senate will vote today on the Democratic plan — he said it appears the deadline will pass with no accord reached.

Casey said the focus of Congress and the administration has to be on strengthening the economy and growing jobs.

“We have to cut wasteful spending and close tax loopholes on very wealthy special interests,” he said.

“We have to replace the sequester with an approach that’s balanced with a responsible mix of cuts and added revenue.”

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