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  • Congress Rightly Seeks Details on Defense-Devastating Sequestration

    With the commander in chief refusing to address the crippling, automatic cuts to national defense scheduled to start on January 2, Congress is appropriately stepping up and demanding answers.

    That is the aim of the Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 (H.R. 5872), which is being taken up in the House this week. It requires the Obama Administration to detail the impact of these across-the-board reductions, which result from the enforcement component of last year’s debt-ceiling agreement, the Budget Control Act. The House measure follows a recent Senate farm bill amendment, sponsored by Senators John McCain (R–AZ) and Patty Murray (D–WA) calling for an even more extensive evaluation.

    These actions are significant for two reasons: They draw much-needed attention to the damage the threatened “sequestration” will do and is doing to national security, and they demonstrate Congress’s willingness to stand up to an Administration that seems almost casual about the threat.

    Sequestration will have a crippling impact on the Pentagon, which will absorb roughly half—$492 billion—of the $1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years, even though national defense is less than one-fifth of the budget. Meanwhile, the badly designed mechanism shields the biggest contributors to Washington’s spending and debt: It exempts Social Security, Medicaid, and all but 2 percent of Medicare. These three programs account for nearly 45 percent of total federal spending.

    The Sequestration Transparency Act, authored by Representative Jeb Hensarling (R–TX), chairman of the House Republican Conference, was approved by the House Budget Committee 30–0 and appears to have broad support in the full House.

    Regrettably, President Obama seems not to share the concern. The White House “has dismissed calls for the information, saying Congress should come up with its own plan to reduce the deficit that would make the automatic reductions unnecessary,” says the July 16 edition of the CQ Budget Tracker Newsletter.

    An April 25 report by the Government Accountability Office says the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) “has not issued any guidance to agencies on preparing for implementation of [sequestration].” OMB has not even begun collecting data concerning sequestration’s likely effect on programs and activities, according to a May 25 letter from acting director Jeffrey D. Zients.

    But not to worry: “Approximately six months remain before sequestration is scheduled to take effect, and Congress has time to act to avoid it,” Zients wrote on June 15. This ignores the harm already being done by the threat of the defense cuts and the growing skepticism that Congress and the President will do anything to stop them.

    The Administration’s inaction is not surprising; the White House commonly misses even routine budget deadlines, such as its Mid-Session Review, due yesterday but delayed indefinitely, as noted by Senator Jeff Sessions (R–AL), ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. The effort by Congress shows a degree of leadership lacking at the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Federal spending—especially in entitlement programs, the main drivers of government deficits and debt—is running out of control and needs to be reduced. But these reckless and unacceptable defense cuts should be replaced with other reductions.

    Meanwhile, lawmakers are taking the right steps in pursuing sound information on the impact of sequestration—and the President has an obligation to deliver.

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to Congress Rightly Seeks Details on Defense-Devastating Sequestration

    1. Lisbeth says:

      Waaah! Waaah! Waaah! Whine! Whine! Whine!

    2. Irene Napier says:

      Beautiful presentation of a complex mess! God bless Heritage for making it so clear and for bringing forth the important particulars.

    3. RennyG says:

      GO ON THE RECORD AND JUST SAY "NO MILITARY CUTS!!!" (EXCEPT IRRESPONSIBLE SPENDING!!"
      ASK HOLDER OR THE SUPREME COURT TO CHANGE THE LAW AND STRIP HIM OF HIS EXECUTIVE AUTHORITY. WE HAVE TO DO SOMETHING EVEN IF IT IS NOT WITHIN LIMITS!!!!!
      LIKE """IMPEACHMENT!!!!!"""""

    4. Arch says:

      Um, defense would amount to 41% of the cuts, not "roughly half." Otherwise, a good read. Thanks.

    5. Robert says:

      The Obama regime already smells blood in the water regarding the military. This is nothing new for them though. President Obama has repeatedly sought to cut our military off at the knees so to speak. For example the nuclear treaty with Russia. This treaty is a threat to everyone yet this regime literally does not care. Our military which receives approximately 20% of our annual spending needs a Commander it can look up to not try and hide from.

    6. Sandra says:

      Defense needs to be cut! We have been led into war time and again by people who profit from war. It's time to call a halt to this. Also, so called entitlements—the fact is Social Security and Medicare are funded primarily by FICA (not income tax) so they don't come out of the general fund. Stop muddying the water about this. Everybody wants to grab the money intended for Social Security for their own (different) purposes. The senior citizens and disabled people who rely on this income are apparently expendable in the minds of those who are trying to cloud the issue with inaccurate talk about entitlements.

    7. Sandra Vanek says:

      The biggest threat to national security is deficit spending and the resulting mounting national debt. Check out the causes for the fall of the Soviet Union and military spending resulting in too much national debt is right there. Greed for the money raised by FiCA payroll deductions (which are for the express purpose of Social Security) has led to misleading talk about "entitlements". Social Security is paid for FICA not income tax and does not come out of the general fund. The Social Security surplus has been plundered ever since it began in 1983. Now the rhetoric would have us believe that it's some kind of welfare program. The baby-boomers paid for their Social Security retirement income over the past forty-plus years.

    8. JoeyB says:

      Our defense budget is so incredibly bloated, it's unbelievable. 7x the amount spent by China in 2012. Cuts are never easy, but this is clearly the area of most concern.

      I find it funny that so many people that post on this site angrily call Obama a socialist, yet they defend the biggest socialistic governmental institution (The Military) so vehemently.

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