It’s the Sequester, Stupid

With Washington’s debt-limit crisis and government shutdown having shifted from an argument about Obamacare to a broader debate about budgets and spending, there is talk once again of a potential “grand bargain.” The prospects of such a bargain seem as dim as ever, but at least an honest discussion of the issue might dispel a myth that is starting to morph into what passes as conventional wisdom in the nation’s capital: namely, that the “sequestration” cuts imposed earlier this year by the Budget Control Act are not so bad after all. The Bipartisan Policy Center busts that particular myth with its new report “From Merely Stupid to Dangerous: The Sequester’s Effects on National and Economic Security.” As the report makes clear, because of a time-lag between defense authorizations and actual budget outlays, the impact of the sequester cuts on the Pentagon are only just beginning to be felt, and compared to fiscal 2013 the spending cuts will double in the next year and triple in 2015. As the report concludes, the combination of sequester cuts and unaddressed cost increases (primarily in military personnel costs and benefits) will continue to erode military readiness, stall modernization “and reduce the [size] of the fighting forces by at least 50 percent by 2021.”

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