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The word they dare not speak: sequestration

Posted By McQ • [June 19, 2012]

As we move inexorably toward the 1st of January, something that continues to be ignored by many in Congress arre these across the board, mandated, 10% cuts that will hit the Defense Department and many businesses associated with it like a ton of bricks if left unaddressed.

I’ve talked about this before, but it is critical to understand why this is so important.  DoD has, this year, begun cutting 500 billion dollars from its budget for the next 10 years at the direction of the President.  As far as I know, it is the only department making those sorts of deep cuts. 

Fine.  I think we all agree, in an era of austerity, and given there is no government department out there that doesn’t have waste, fraud and abuse it can’t cut, that those cuts are most likely necessary and, if done intelligently, survivable.

Sequestration is a whole ‘nother 500 billion dollar round of cuts.   In other words, these cuts will come on top of those DoD has already been directed to make, a trillion in total.

Under sequestration there will be no priority given to what is cut.  It will be, by law, a 10% across the board cut.  Every program that DoD has will see 10% lopped from their budget (in addition to those cuts currently being made under the first half trillion directed cuts).

What will sequestration mean?

 

That's right, huge layoffs at a time when the economy is struggling.  Seem smart to you?

Here’s what I don’t get.  There are plans, as the video points out, that would allow sequestration to be managed in such a way that those sorts of layoffs won’t be necessary.  Instead, it would allow lawmakers the time to prioritize any further cuts and do them intelligently.  If they can find another 500 billion to cut, bully on them.  But the way sequestration, as currently structured, would hit DoD - on top of the other cuts - promises pure chaos.  No priories, no intelligence in the cuts, just a meat axe approach that treats critical programs exactly like the non-critical ones.

We can do better than that.

We’re nearing the end of June and no solution is in sight. 

However, politically, it is a time bomb with a shorter fuse than many politicians think.  By law, for instance, defense contractors are required to give those they’re going to lay off 60 days notice.  As it stands, that timing is about the only leverage available that may make lawmakers sit up, take notice and do something before January 1st:

But if no deal is reached before the election, it could be sitting members of Congress — in both parties — who suffer.

“If it really did happen, if hundreds of thousands of layoff notices went out right before the election, it could hurt incumbents – mainly, the president,” said Todd Harrison, a defense expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

National defense is, or should be, our most critical priority.  Sequestration is not the way to fix that.  Let your member of Congress know how you feel on this.  It is important.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


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