Stop the Nonsense: Sequester Won’t Hurt


President Obama and his media allies are pushing the notion that sequester will destroy Western civilization. States are saying that the cuts will devastate the economy, and the Pentagon insists they will “hollow out” the military. A total of 800,000 DOD employees will have to take a 20 percent pay cut. Head Start is at risk. All manner of chaos will descend if we trim the discretionary budget from 1,034 billion to 950 billion!

Don’t believe it for an instant.

Start with defense spending. The U.S. now spends 19 percent of its budget on defense. The sequester would drop it to 18 percent. Big deal! That’s the same percentage it was in 2000. Under Obama, the defense budget has risen from $545 billion to $605 billion. Sequester will reduce it back to $563 billion — still more than when Obama took office.

It is absurd to suggest that this cut will endanger American security. Under Reagan, defense rose to 29 percent of the budget. But since the early 1990s, it has run between 18 and 20 percent, and these cuts would leave it still within this range.

The domestic non-defense cuts are even less likely to cause major damage. Non-defense discretionary spending has risen under Obama from $468 billion to $514 billion. Sequester would drop it back to the same level as it was when Obama took office. As a percent of the budget, this category has dropped from 18 percent of the budget when Clinton took office to 16 percent now. Sequester would drive it down to 15 percent. Again, big deal!

To pretend that driving spending down to pre-Obama levels will be a disaster is on its face ridiculous.

But, of course, under the ground rules of sequester — approved by Obama — the president decides where to cut. Congress only specifies the amount. Of course, like any big city mayor pleading for more state aid, the president is projecting the worst possible cuts, maintaining that core programs will have to be jettisoned.

Obama is like a person going on a diet who proposes amputation of a limb as opposed to eating less to reach his weight goal.

Don’t buy any of it. Sequester will have only minimal effect on government services. Obama’s contention that it will devastate the economy is even more ludicrous. The president has just signed almost $300 billion of tax increases into law for 2013 — about 2 percent of our GDP. To pretend that these are OK but an $85 billion cut in spending will cause the economy to collapse is just absurd.

Sequester is a process to which Obama agreed. Republicans would be quite willing to cut entitlements rather than government spending or defense. But Obama won’t hear of it. Obama, for his part, would be happy to see $85 billion in more taxes with no spending cuts. But the Republicans won’t go along. So let both sides stop pretending that sequester is the end of the world. The Republicans should back off their contention that it would collapse our defenses and the Democrats from their argument that it would destroy poor people and ruin our so-called economic recovery.

All sequester would do is to undo the spending excesses of the Obama years.

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