When it comes to sequester cuts, no member of the Obama administration has been more outspoken and pants-wetting that outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. Here he is on a recent Sunday morning show:
“I have to tell you it is irresponsible for it to happen. I mean, why in God’s name would members of Congress, elected by the American people, take a step that would badly damage our national defense, but more importantly undermine the support for our men and women in uniform?…If Congress stands back and allows sequester to take place, I think it would really be a shameful and irresponsible act.”
courtesy de Rugy/Mercatus CenterBack in 2011,he wrote to Congress about that sequestration could under the worst-case scenario amount to “23 percent” of military spending, which is simply not true. The sequester cuts, should they happen, will at most knock a few tens of billions of dollars off this year’s base budget for Defense, bringing the total down below $500 billion.
After which point it will start rising again, despite a much-ballyhooed end to two wars that have been very expensive in terms of lives lost and treasure spent. As the nearby chart prepared by Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy shows, the sequester means cumulative defense spending through 2021 would total $4.8 trillion instead of $5.3 trillion. Even the U.S. government would sign off on whatever torture Panetta is using on basic math.
And here’s a reminder: About half of the $85 billion sequester cuts will come from defense spending. But only about half of those spending cuts - $44 billion -will happen in fiscal year 2013. So we’re looking at an immediate cut in planned defense spending of something on the order of $20 billion.
In any case, should the sequester cuts happen, they come after Defense’s base budget - which doesn’t include war spending, a variety of Homeland Security bits, and other supplemental expenditures - rose by 40 percent over the past decade or so, from $397 billion in 2001 to around $550 billion this year. Because military personnel is exempted from the sequester (as is war funding and a bunch of other stuff), there’s no reason to sweat our preparedness over such trims. And, as the Congressional Budget Office notes in its recent budget outlook document, militcourtesy National Review.ary outlays subject to budget cap limits are expected to increase from $518 billion in 2014 to $576 billion in 2021. Over the same time frame, total defense spending (which includes war spending), will jump 14 percent, rom $593 billion to $679 billion (all figures in current dollars; see Table 1-5).
Can we get a show of hands of people who would like to see their salary growth subect to such a “shameful” expansion?