Lame Duck Threat: Defense Sequester
With the election behind us, Congress will convene a lame-duck session. This series will highlight major issues facing Congress that may be decided by defeated and retiring lawmakers.
Issue Description: Sequestration is a budgetary measure implemented by the Budget Control Act of 2012 that automatically cuts $1.2 trillion over 10 years beginning on January 2. Instead of targeting entitlement spending, which totals nearly 62 percent of all federal spending, lawmakers’ targeted defense. Of the $1.2 trillion, defense takes the biggest hit of all — nearly $500 billion. The scheduled defense sequester “would implement automatic defense cuts that would slow important Pentagon programs.” Heritage explains that a halt to these programs would be detrimental to our defense infrastructure which is “in dire need of an update.”
Why Lame-Duck: Because the sequester was not really supposed to happen, there is pressure for Congress to provide a temporary alternative in the lame duck, such as deferring sequestration of defense spending. Whether Congress attempts to fix the problem in the lame duck, or defers to the 113th Congress, the need for a real solution is evident.
Conservative Position: Our military’s infrastructure is in serious need of updating and improvement. The sequester would render these necessary improvements to our military nearly impossible, as the budget cuts are not made strategically, and would result in grave and negative consequences for our national security and for our military.
- President Obama has admitted that the savings that will result from cutting the defense budget will go toward spending on construction projects; essentially another stimulus package. Thus far, his Keynesian stimulus plans have failed, and cutting the defense budget only to spend the money on other frivolous projects is ill advised, since it will defeat the purpose of trying to reduce the deficit.
- Heritage’s Baker Spring and Michaela Bendikova have outlined negative consequences of the defense sequester. These include a failure to restore the missile defense program, a lack of funding for nuclear forces, a decrease in the number of fighters, limits on the Navy’s global capacities, and retirement of old cargo planes without a procurement of new ones. These are all serious issues. Heritage explains: “Perhaps the most important contributing factor to this increase in risk under current budget politics is the large-scale reduction in the overall defense modernization program.”
- Heritage Action’s CEO Michael Needham and COO Tim Chapman explained the left intentionally created a situation in which “national security conservatives who understand the damage this will do to our armed forces’ ability to effectively protect this nation have been put in a position where they’re told to choose between protecting America and increasing taxes on hardworking Americans.”