The threat of sequestration—the half-trillion dollar cut to defense set to occur January 2, 2013—has been debated and prevention plans have been discussed since before it was even written into law.
The budgetary measure was written to be so unpalatable that Congress and the Administration would have to find a solution, after all. That failed when put in the hands of the Super Committee. No alternative has been passed. With a mere few weeks remaining, the President and Congress must find a way to avert these cuts—without raising taxes—to ensure that America can protect its future.
Because most members of Congress and the Administration agree that the defense sequester must be stopped, a Washington Examiner journalist recently asked, “So why are our troops and the equipment on which they depend and the comfort and safety of their families part of the hostage negotiations over tax rates, spending cuts and entitlement reform?” Those who want to shrink America’s national security forces argue that everything must be on the table, including defense. However this sentiment is misleading in two key ways.
First, defense has been on the table, perhaps more than any other part of the federal budget. Since 2009, the Department of Defense has totaled roughly half of all federal spending reductions, even though it accounts for a fifth of the total budget. Furthermore, while U.S. military leadership has accepted those cuts and said they can get by under this new austerity, none of them have stated that the Armed Forces can withstand a further reduction.
When Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D–NV) and his colleagues make the argument that everything has to be on the table, they are being disingenuous with the American people. Throughout these debates, not once has Reid or the President put entitlement program reforms on the table, much less suggested they be part of a fiscal cliff deal. They steadfastly argue that the only solution is to raise taxes, particularly on upper-income Americans and businesses.
The United States has a spending problem, not a revenue problem—or a bloated military. In fact, we could eliminate spending on national security altogether and we would still have a spending and debt crisis, because mandatory spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security continues on autopilot and increasingly consumes tax dollars.
America’s sailors, soldiers, airmen, and Marines are already operating with less than they need and deserve. The Navy’s fleet, which is on track to reach record lows, is sailing old and improperly maintained ships that constantly break down. Pilots are flying fighter jets built during the 1970s and bombers built during the 1950s. Soldiers have had to tape body armor to rented SUVs because they can’t afford proper armored vehicles. The idea that we can do more with less is not only incorrect; it is a disservice to those who enter harm’s way to protect our liberties.
While sequestration is nearly upon us, there is still time to stop it. More than $150 billion in spending cuts have already been put forth to offset the defense cuts without burdening U.S. citizens with higher taxes. It is time for the leaders in Congress and the President to sit down and make the responsible decision to invest in America’s future by providing a strong national defense.