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Attorney General John Suthers questions sequestration maneuver

By: The Gazette editorial
July 12, 2013 Updated: July 12, 2013 at 12:25 pm
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photo - FILE - In this July 2009 file photo Colorado Attorney General John Suthers is pictured at a news conference in Denver. Republican incumbent Attorney General John Suthers is being challenged by Democrat Stan Garnett, the Boulder County district attorney in the Nov. 2 election. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File)
FILE - In this July 2009 file photo Colorado Attorney General John Suthers is pictured at a news conference in Denver. Republican incumbent Attorney General John Suthers is being challenged by Democrat Stan Garnett, the Boulder County district attorney in the Nov. 2 election. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, File) 

Colorado Attorney General John Suthers is tilting at windmills again, trying to protect Coloradans from an overgrown federal bureaucracy with an insatiable appetite for controlling humanity.

Washington wants the little people, middle-class laborers and professionals who pay taxes, to feel sequestration like a slap in the face. We all know cuts have been made in such a manner as to create an illusion that we need excessive spending if government is to afford White House tours for school children or military training missions that double as air shows at public events. They clearly think we're all stupid.

Americans also understand these cuts do little, if anything, to curtail the activities of ranking government officials who throw lavish, million-dollar hotel parties abroad.

President Barack Obama's recent vacation to Africa - a nonessential expense during a time of ostensible fiscal restraint - cost Americans about $100 million.

To help pay for business as usual in Washington, the federal government plans to hold back $110 million in mining royalty payments that are owed to states. Under federal mineral leases, private producers of coal, oil and gas pay royalties to Uncle Sam. A portion of each lease payment belongs to the state in which the producer operates. When the federal government cuts a royalty check to Colorado, it's not an expense to federal government. It is merely the distribution of funds that belong to Colorado under provisions of leases. It is similar to a record label distributing a portion of royalties to an artist. The record company doesn't spend money when it pays the artist; it merely distributes what rightly belongs to that person.

The federal government owes Colorado $8.4 million in energy payments. It is money our state government desperately needs. We don't need it for an expensive executive trip to Africa, but for roads, bridges, education, fire suppression, law enforcement and other legitimate government functions. The money belongs to Colorado and not the federal government. If the federal government keeps it, one can view the move as white-collar theft. It means the federal government collected money that belongs to Colorado and simply decided to keep it.

We aren't legal experts, but Suthers is. He was a leader in the multistate lawsuit against Obamacare that would have prevailed in the Supreme Court, but for a bizarre and thoroughly debunked decision by a slim majority to effectively rewrite the illegal health care law as passed out of Congress.

Here's what Suthers says about the government's decision to hold back $110 million - roughly the cost of the president's recent foreign vacation.

"Given the lack of articulated authority to sequester funds, I believe the sequester is unlawful, especially as it relates to royalty payments due to states under the federal Mineral Leasing Act," Suthers wrote after Americans for Prosperity-Colorado asked his opinion.

The sequester was Obama's idea. He used it as a bargaining chip in convincing Congress to allow the federal government to go further into debt. Congress wanted cuts and wasn't going to settle for lip service from the executive branch. So Obama said he'd make cuts. Just in case anyone didn't trust him to make the promised cuts, they would kick in automatically and across the board.

It is Obama's inability to make strategic budget cuts that led to this ridiculous sequester in the first place, and today it appears that he considers a decision to not pay bills - to violate contracts - the same as a spending cut.

A breach of contracts with creditors is not a spending cut. If it is, any household or business could cut spending by sequestering funds owed to the IRS.

To cut spending, government must consume less. It must reduce the dependence Americans have developed for income derived from government. Instead of doing so, the Obama administration has encouraged dependence at every turn.

President Obama, royalties owed to states do not belong to the federal government. They are supposed to pass through the federal bureaucracy, which we entrusted with the responsibility of lawful distribution.

Thank you, John Suthers, for defending the rights of Coloradans against a federal government that gets more out of control by the day.

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