The Coming Sequestration is a Profile in Cowardice
In August of 2011, Congress fought a very public battle, engineered by the White House, leading to a budget deal that raised the debt ceiling while creating a bi-partisan Congressional debt reduction Supercommittee charged with finding 1.2 trillion in spending cuts by Thanksgiving 2011. The “Not-so-Supercommittee” failed to agree on any cuts, even though the penalty for failure would be financial devastation to the U.S. economy and over-weighted cuts to the military on January 2, 2013. One might ask, what does devastation look like? The chart provided by Heritage.org shows the military absorbing a hit of 42.6% of the 1.2 trillion, even though DOD is only 11.4% of the U.S. budget. This is serious when added to the significant $487 billion in cuts previously agreed to, and currently being implemented, in the August 2011 budget deal. Cuts will also affect domestic spending and entitlements, but cuts to other segments of the economy are minuscule by comparison. As Defense Secretary Panetta cautioned, the DOD will have the “smallest ground forces since 1940,” “a fleet of fewer than 230 ships, the smallest level since 1915,” and the “smallest tactical fighter force in the history of the Air Force.” The President and many in his administration share a delusion that our enemies will respect us more when we unilaterally disarm. America has never had more determined enemies either at home or abroad and Congress has allowed politics and fiscal irresponsibility to obscure the urgency of upgrading our military equipment. The F-15 fighter, first introduced in the 60′s were expected to stay in service for about 4000 flight hours. The current generation of F-15′s have almost 8000 hours of service and the entire USAF fleet averages 28.5 years of age. We are asking American jet pilots to continue risking their lives with equipment that is less safe and dependable. Devastation is also accurate when your enemies have better, faster and more dependable aircraft than the country they wish to destroy…us. The same urgency holds true for the U.S. Army and Navy, yet political gamesmanship will leave us deeply vulnerable in the coming months and years. On the domestic side, estimates of job losses due to the upcoming sequestration have increased dramatically. Dr. Stephen Fuller and Marion Blakey, President of the Aerospace Industries Association provides illumination via a recent study. Half of the 1.2 trillion in cuts affect the domestic side. 2.14 million jobs will be lost in 2013 alone. Marion notes this is the population of the city of Houston, Texas. This is twice previous estimates and will cut GDP by $215 billion due to sequestration. Two-thirds of our anticipated growth for next year is essentially gone. The unemployment rate will rise to 9.6 percent. The WARN Act requires 60 day notice of significant layoffs by companies with 100 or more employees, which means the damage will be noticed in November of 2012. We know that 75 percent of businesses are not planning to hire in 2013 and uncertainty is the culprit. The sequestration must be addressed by Congress. It was meant to be extreme with the premise that Congress would never permit it to occur. Our national survival and liberty requires responsibility from our elected officials. It is sorely lacking.