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Congress Should Support the Sequester

The main order of business on Capitol Hill during the lame duck session is how to deal with the sequester. Since the infamous Super Committee established under the Budget Control Act of 2011 was unable to reach a deficit-reduction deal, automatic across-the-board spending “cuts” will go into effect on January 1, 2013. While the sequester is not ideal because it does not allow departments to choose what to “cut”, Congress should stand firm on the budget sequester set forth in the Budget Control Act of 2011.

With the federal government expecting to face an over $1 trillion deficit in the upcoming year, we cannot afford to increase spending at the current rate. Congress should not back down on the $109 billion in sequestration spending restraint scheduled for next year. Contrary to big government ideology, spending cuts will stimulate the economy and spur job growth in the private sector.

There are concerns about the sequester because it will “cut” $55 billion from the Pentagon budget in 2013. Many lawmakers claim these so-called cuts will “gut the military.” But in reality, the sequester isn’t cutting real spending. The automatic spending “cuts” set forth in the Budget Control Act of 2011 are mainly a cut to the growth in spending. This means that Pentagon spending will still increase over the next ten years even if the sequester is enacted.

The chart below produced by Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center of George Mason University shows that, with a few exceptions, Pentagon spending will not actually be reduced under sequestration.


We have a huge problem if Congress is unwilling to support reducing the rate of spending increases over the next decade. We have an even larger problem if Republicans are willing to raise taxes in order to stop the sequester. Raising taxes will only hurt economic growth in this weak economy.

We all want a strong national defense and sound policies that keep America safe. However, it is possible to cut Pentagon spending without jeopardizing our national security or putting our troops in any harm.

With the U.S. official national debt over $16 trillion, we must cut spending across the board. Every federal government department’s budget has wasteful spending in it—including the Department of Defense.

Too many Republicans are afraid to cut the Pentagon budget for fear of being perceived as “weak on defense.” But a large chunk of the Pentagon budget has absolutely nothing to do with defending the United States. There is good reason to believe that the Pentagon budget is filled with billions of dollars worth of pet projects and unnecessary spending. As RNC Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) recently stated: “I would say the only thing that’s worse than cutting national defense is not having any scheduled cuts at all take place.”

The Pentagon may spend billions in coming years on weapons systems and programs that it doesn’t want or need. Politicians specifically favor the Global Hawk Block 30 drone program, the C-27J Spartan cargo aircraft, upgrades to the M1 Abrams tank, Air National Guard funding, and a proposed East Coast missile defense system that many Pentagon officials have called unaffordable and unnecessary.

The amount of money that the Pentagon spends is astounding. The United States accounts for about half the world’s military spending. U.S. military spending has doubled over the past decade when adjusted for inflation. But just like more education spending does not necessarily mean better education, more military spending does not necessarily mean that we are any safer.

The biggest national security threat facing the United States is the escalating national debt. The spending restraints in the sequester are a step in the right direction, although, we would prefer real, meaningful cuts. Congress should stand firm on the budget sequester and oppose any efforts to reduce the spending restraints in the sequester or raise taxes.