Foreign policy played a key role in the vice presidential debate between Vice President Joe Biden and Representative Paul Ryan (R–WI), and while there is a large cache of foreign policy issues that are up for serious discussion in this election, one of the most important is the imminent threat of defense cuts under sequestration.
If Congress and the President do not work to stop this budgetary measure before it goes into effect on January 2, another half-trillion will be cut from the defense budget.
The cuts under sequestration will reduce the already diminished readiness of our military and in turn impair the ability of our military to engage in future contingencies and assert U.S. national interests around the globe. In addition, the cuts will severely weaken the defense industrial base, impede research and development of new weapons systems, and stifle much-needed modernization across the armed services. In short, this issue deserved even more critical attention at the vice presidential debate and decisive discussion beyond.
Across party lines, most agree that sequestration is bad policy. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta even stated that if sequestration were to take effect, it would be like “shooting ourselves in the head.” Yet, although the House of Representatives passed five measures to avoid sequestration, the Senate and the President have yet to agree on a way to block the debilitating cuts. In fact, the President has even stated that he would veto any bill that prevents sequestration if it did not raise taxes. It is absolutely crucial for Congress and the President to set aside politics and work together to stop these irresponsible defense cuts.
The inability to stop sequestration so far, as well as the precarious situation it will put our military in, is an issue that should garner serious attention past the vice presidential debate and in the months ahead.
Bianca Falcone is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm.