Report: Sequestration wrong, but cuts right

The Center for American Progress said in a new report that sequestration is more about political maneuvering than sound budget practice, but that those levels of cuts are needed at the Department of Defense.

They also can be done without a sacrifice to security, if the cuts are done in a thoughtful manner over the next decade, CAP said.

From the report:

A responsible rollback of our military budget is achievable with no impact on our security. This reduced spending trajectory is safely achievable for the following reasons:

  • It would bring the military budget back to its inflation-adjusted level of FY 2006—close to the highest level since World War II and the second-to-last year of the George W. Bush administration. Was anyone worried that we were disarming ourselves then?
  • The baseline military budget has grown in real terms for an unprecedented 13 straight years.
  • The military’s blank check over this period has had predictable results in the form of massive waste. The estimate of cost growth in planned procurement spending is $74.4 billion over the last year alone, according to the Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress. This would cover the entire amount of next year’s sequestration, with $20 billion left over.(Responsible ways to manage the reductions are discussed in the three budgeting sections of this report beginning on page 39.)
  • Over its 10-year lifespan, sequestration—plus the $487 billion in cuts already contained in the Budget Control Act—would reduce Pentagon spending plans by 33 percent, an amount that is in line with previous reductions. The last major defense budget drawdown, which occurred after the end of the Cold War through the administrations of presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton, was 35 percent. Previous Republican administrations managed much larger reductions than the one mandated by the Budget Control Act: President Dwight D. Eisenhower reduced defense spending by 27 percent, and President Richard Nixon reduced it by 29 percent.
  • The military increases of the past decade have been “paid for” by government borrowing, thereby increasing the deficit and national debt. Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mike Mullen has identified deficit reduction as a national security imperative, yet many of those who call themselves “deficit hawks” lose all interest in controlling the federal budget deficit when it comes to the military budget.
  • The U.S. Defense Department has begun to justify its procurement plans by referring to “defense of the commons” and protection of the global economy, yet effectively policing the entire global commons is beyond the capacity of the United States and its partners. The United States is not the “Planet Earth Security Organization,” nor can it be. The attempt provokes competition by other great powers, leading to less security, not more.
  • Reducing spending to 2006 levels will leave our military dominant in every dimension, including air power, sea power, and ground forces deployment, as well as in transport, infrastructure, communications, and intelligence.

Rebalancing Our National Security

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