Report Suggests DoD Should Study Lessons from Failed Anti-sequester Campaign

Faithful Intercepts readers no doubt are familiar with the dire predictions from civilian and uniformed Pentagon leaders about what will become of the U.S. military and American national security if all of sequestration’s $500 billion, decade-spanning cuts are enacted. Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos on Feb. 12 told a congressional panel it would be “ruinous” — though even some pro-military lawmakers and experts are skeptical about such gloomy claims.

When it came to convincing the political system to avoid the sequestration cuts, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey recently admitted to a congressional panel that Pentagon leaders misplayed their hand. Well, Intercepts readers better hope Pentagon brass made a list of what went wrong — you know, ran what military types often (too often?) call a “lessons-learned drill.”

That’s because, according to one nonpartisan Washington think tank, deeper federal spending cuts will be needed to further pare the federal deficit and truly right the American fiscal ship. And, remember, even with sequestration the Pentagon’s baseline budget is projected to approach $600 billion per year later this decade. That’s one GIANT target. As we’ve all learned, when Washington takes on the difficult task that is deficit reduction, the GIANT targets are the easiest ones to hit.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget said in a report released Wednesday that Washington should replace the sequester cuts “with larger, gradually phased in, and more targeted savings that generate long-term fiscal improvements.” As your correspondent will explain in a piece for Monday’s print issue of Defense News, there’s a widespread and bipartisan desire in Washington to do just that — but President Barack Obama’s three-headed political scandal monster could complicate things.

The conventional wisdom in Washington is if a “grand bargain” fiscal deal that lessens or completely replaces the remaining nine years of the twin $500 billion cuts to planned defense and domestic spending, the deficit will be lowered to manageable levels and sequestration’s chilling economic effects will vanish.

CRFB’s report drops a sledgehammer on that notion. The center is calling for lawmakers to pass a “grand bargain” soon — and then another one.

“Despite the progress made in enacting substantial short-term and temporary deficit reduction, policy makers have done little to combat the pressures of population aging, health care cost-growth, and an outdated tax code that will lead to a rising debt trajectory,” the center wrote.

“Whether policymakers replace or retain the sequester,” the center wrote, “a combination of new spending cuts, entitlement reforms, and tax reforms will be needed to help support long-term economic growth and put the debt on a clear downward path relative to the economy.”

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett