UPDATE: According to the Federal Times, the Obama administration will miss the Friday deadline for the sequestration transparency report. Now they’re promising it will be delivered “late next week”—yet another failure of responsible governance.
Meanwhile, here’s a report from Politico detailing the faulty sequestration process was born. Despite the fact that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and other administration officials have sought to shift the blame to Congressional Republicans, a new book by legendary journalist Bob Woodward reports that the scheme was hatched by the White House.
The book “The Price of Politics,” by Washington Post Associate Editor Bob Woodward, makes it clear the idea for the draconian spending cuts originated in the White House – and not in Congress.
According to the book, excerpts of which were obtained by POLITICO ahead of the Sept. 11 release, President Barack Obama’s top deputies believed the prospect of massive defense cuts would compel Republicans to agree to a deficit-cutting grand bargain.
Then-OMB Director Jack Lew, now the White House chief of staff, and White House Legislative Affairs Director Rob Nabors pitched the idea to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Woodward writes. Under the deal, which Republicans accepted after several rounds of bargaining, the federal debt ceiling was raised — staving off a potential financial crisis.
Called sequestration, the automatic budget cuts would reduce federal spending by roughly $1 trillion over the next decade, with half the savings taken from national security programs. Despite agreeing that sequestration is bad policy, since all accounts are reduced by an equal amount with no strategy, Republicans and Democrats have been unable to reach a deal to avert the cuts, which take effect Jan. 2.
Instead, the two sides have been locked in a vicious blame game.
Intelligent, responsible spending reform will apparently have to wait for another day. Our leaders are too busy trying to one-up each other with partisan political games.
Sequestration: Let’s Get Specific
Before Congress adjourned for summer recess, they did manage at least one significant bipartisan success: the passage of the Sequestration Transparency Act. Regular readers know that “sequestration” refers to mandatory spending cuts scheduled to go into effect in January, and that these cuts would take some $500 billion from our defense budget over the next decade.
Sounds like a big deal, right? Yet remarkably, we still have little specific sense of how the cuts would land, because administration budget officials have given no specific indication of how the process will be carried out. Chalk that up as yet another symptom of our government’s paralyzing dysfunction.
Passed with overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans in Congress, the Sequestration Transparency Act requires the administration to supply a detailed report on the cuts. I applauded this move in August, because if we’re looking for cost savings in the defense realm—and we should, to root out the inefficiency and waste in Pentagon spending—then it’s critical that we have a clear and specific picture of what those reforms will look like.”
President Obama, to his credit, signed the Sequestration Transparency Act on August 7. The law gives his administration 30 days to supply Congress with the detailed report, which means that the deadline for the report is today. There’s some question as to whether or not the Obama administration will meet the deadline for the report, but we’ll be keeping a close eye for when the report is delivered and provide more thoughts then.
Pete Hegseth is the CEO of Concerned Veterans for America, and the former executive director of Vets for Freedom. Pete is an infantry officer in the Army National Guard, and has served tours in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Guantanamo Bay.