Sequestration refers to the process built into the Budget Control Act that triggers an additional $500 billion across-the-board cut (separate from the previous agreement of $487 billion) in DOD spending over the next ten years (beginning January 2013), if Congress doesn’t identify alternative spending cuts.
The United States- Americans- more importantly- our service members are faced with a game of Russian Roulette (within the Administration- called “an enforcement mechanism,” a threat to pressure members of Congress to compromise on reducing the deficit and was “never meant to be implemented”).
This on top of the reminder, that the current Administration’s Congress has not been able to pass a budget in the last three years- a wonder. (Please note that the 2008-2010- Congress was inundated with a Democrat majority).
Under the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 (BBEDCA), as amended by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA), the November, 2011 failure and resultant dissolution of the Super Committee triggered sequestration of $1.2 trillion over the next decade-to begin January, 2013 (half of which will be in DoD spending- the other half, yes, cuts in entitlement spending).
Last month, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little, discussed the impending threat of the sequestration. He said funding for all defense contracts that are put in place October 1 -January 1 are subject to sequestration as called for by the BCA.
President Obama says both parties will have to “give something to avoid massive cuts in defense and other programs”. Obama said his administration is “preparing for contingencies” and is required to present to Congress exactly how the cuts would be implemented by Sept. 6,- in accordance with the recently passed/signed Sequestration Transparency Act. (Note: this is enforcement). The bill requires the administration to send Congress a report on the impact of the Sequester on both defense and domestic programs within 30 days of the bill becoming law.
“Democrats have to understand we’re going to need some additional spending cuts, and Republicans have to understand we’re going to need some additional revenue.”
The GOP vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan said that he and Presidential Candidate, Mitt Romney have a plan to pass a budget fix quickly in January if Congress doesn’t act prior to the January enforcement, but has not yet divulged details of the plan.
Economists warn that the stakes “couldn’t be higher”- combined with the January expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, the first year of automatic reductions could send the country back into recession. Small businesses may begin scaling back their employment rolls once they learn the precise nature of the planned cuts from the Obama report.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who co-chaired the now defunct super committee, said in a statement said, “Everyone should understand that sequestration is a terrible way to cut spending, so I am hopeful that the more information my colleagues receive about its impact, the more they will be willing to move off of their partisan positions and work with us toward a balanced and bipartisan replacement.”
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said, “As the Defense Department adopts a new paradigm for the U.S. military to remain a formidable force while absorbing $487 billion in spending reductions over the next decade, the prospect of an additional $500 billion spending reduction over that period would be ‘a disaster’ not only for national defense, but also for defense communities.”
Moreover, Pentagon officials predict hiring freezes, furloughs, less training for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and even the potential for denial of medical services to veterans.
If you are a service member, you should be asking yourself the what, when, how and why of the impending sequestration- now.