Sequestration or not, defense budget to continue its decline

Senate Budget Committee

Chairman Kent Conrad during the hearing on the President's FY 2013 budget for the Dept. of Defense with Secretary Panetta, February 28, 2012.

Article Highlights

  • In some corners #sequestration isn't viewed as a problem to be solved but a preferable solution already on the books.

    Tweet This

  • Democrats can use #sequestration as negotiating leverage in the lame duck to tackle taxes.

    Tweet This

  • "The most likely outcome is that taxes will go up and more defense cuts are still in store." @MEaglen

    Tweet This

While many in Washington assume that Congress will solve sequestration by the end of the year–the problem Congress created when the Super Committee failed–recent comments by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) indicate that sequestration in some form is coming.

Worse, in some corners it seems that sequestration is not viewed as a problem to be solved but rather an increasingly preferable solution already on the books. Sure, some say, sequestration is a tough pill to swallow, but Congress has to reduce the debt.

Only one party is trying to meaningfully address sequestration, and that should worry everyone. According to Politico, Majority Leader Reid and others are digging in on sequestration. There is the sense Republicans are vulnerable since they agreed to this as part of the debt-ceiling deal. Now Democrats can use sequestration as negotiating leverage in the lame duck to tackle taxes and possibly another debt-ceiling increase."Worse, in some corners it seems that sequestration is not viewed as a problem to be solved but rather an increasingly preferable solution already on the books." -Mackenzie Eaglen

That’s the dirty secret in Washington. It may have appeared just a few months ago that there was near universal consensus on the need to avoid the sequester’s devastating cuts to the military, adding about $600 billion to the $487 billion already slashed for the coming decade. But Republicans negotiated a debt ceiling deal only Republicans could hate that offered up two bad choices: tax hikes or defense cuts.

Now the most likely outcome is that taxes will go up and more defense cuts are still in store, including partial or full sequestration and beyond.

Senator Reid has drawn bright red lines, stating “I am not going to back off the sequestration…. To now see the Republicans scrambling do to away with the cuts to defense, I will not accept that.”

Reid continued, “My people—in the state of Nevada and I think the country—have had enough of whacking all the programs. We’ve cut them to a bare bone and defense is going to have to bear their share of the burden.”

Sequestration is now being offered up by some as the least-bad option. As Reid stated, “I don’t think there is the stomach out there to stop the sequester.”

That’s certainly news to the Pentagon, industry and military service members. And it is yet another reason why it is past time for Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his staff to start planning for sequestration now.

Mackenzie Eaglen is a resident fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies.

 

 

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Mackenzie
Eaglen
  • Mackenzie Eaglen has worked on defense issues in the U.S. Congress, both House and Senate, and at the Pentagon in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the Joint Staff. She specializes in defense strategy, budget, military readiness and the defense industrial base. In 2010, Ms. Eaglen served as a staff member of the congressionally mandated Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel, a bipartisan, blue-ribbon commission established to assess the Pentagon's major defense strategy. A prolific writer on defense related issues, she has also testified before Congress.


     


    Follow Mackenzie Eaglen on Twitter.

  • Phone: (202) 862-7183
    Email: mackenzie.eaglen@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Charles Morrison
    Phone: (202) 862-5945
    Email: charles.morrison@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image The Census Bureau and Obamacare: Dumb decision? Yes. Conspiracy? No.
image A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
image Give the CBO long-range tools
image The coming collapse of India's communists
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 14
    MON
  • 15
    TUE
  • 16
    WED
  • 17
    THU
  • 18
    FRI
Wednesday, April 16, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Calling treason by its name: A conversation with Liam Fox

Join us at AEI as the Right Honorable Liam Fox sits down with Marc Thiessen to discuss and debate whether America’s intelligence agencies have infringed on the personal privacy of US citizens.

Thursday, April 17, 2014 | 4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
The curmudgeon's guide to getting ahead

How can young people succeed in workplaces dominated by curmudgeons who are judging their every move? At this AEI book event, bestselling author and social scientist Charles Murray will offer indispensable advice for navigating the workplace, getting ahead, and living a fulfilling life.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.