CVA Responds to Sequestration Cuts

Here we are—March 1st —with no solution in sight. Instead our country is saddled with a policy—sequestration—that nobody wants.  Yet, somehow, our “leaders” in Washington were unable to avoid it.  Yet another landmark for Washington dysfunction…as we kick the can further down the road.

More than anything else, the failure to replace sequestration with sensible government reforms, is a failure of leadership. Doing big things requires earnest and sustained commitment. The White House provided none of that—only turning up the doomsday rhetoric in the last 18 days, after wasting 18 months. They didn’t hold a single bi-partisan meeting to try and avoid this—until today, a meeting that lasted just 47 minutes. So, rather than serious solutions to America’s spending problem, we got shallow—if shrewd—political posturing.

The issue with the sequestration cuts is not the need for them, or even the size of the cuts.  America’s debt crisis requires spending reductions—and substantial ones at that.

Instead, the issue with sequestration is the nature and proportion of the cuts. A smart deficit reduction plan would require targeted reforms—and courageous leadership to stand behind specific proposals.  But, instead, these cuts are indiscriminate and across the board—hitting both effective and ineffective programs. Plain and simple—it’s the cowards way out.  A complete cop-out, and we pay the price for it.

And, the dirty little secret about sequestration is that is does next-to-nothing to improve our long-term debt picture.  It’s a temporary haircut, rather than sustained reform. It doesn’t reform the largest drivers of our deficits and it makes no tough decisions. It’s a cop-out way to cut spending, that doesn’t actually improve our fiscal future.

For those of us who are both deficit and defense hawks—who believe that our mounting debt is a national security crisis & believe that America must maintain the most powerful military in the world—sequestration is the worst of all worlds.  No reform—especially in entitlement programs—and lots of defense cuts.

An overwhelming proportion of sequestration cuts fall on the defense department, an area that has already seen substantial cuts. And as veterans know, we still live in a very dangerous world that requires American leadership. We can’t afford to gut our military and hope threats go away. Washington’s dysfunction is undercutting our troops—they’ll train less, maintain less, and be less ready to fight.

With that important caveat, the Pentagon still has plenty of places where it can save money without undercutting readiness. Our organization—CVA—has taken the lead in proposing substantial reforms to defense spending that cut fat, and spare muscle. As folks who understand defense spending best, we need to take the lead in calling for defense reforms—there is more fat to be cut in the Pentagon, and we need to go after it.  Go to our website to read our “Defend and Reform” report—that outlines some suggestions for defense reductions that preserve strategic capabilities.

That said, you literally cannot balance the books on the back of the defense department. You could cut the entire Pentagon today and still not balance the budget.  Likewise, you can’t raise enough taxes to fix the problem. Only government reform—on the real drivers of our debt—can sensibly correct our spending problem. America is in desperate need of policy stability and fiscal predictability, so small businesses can hire more workers and taxpayers can get back to work.

Because this isn’t just an academic problem. Washington’s inability to solve real problems is impacting real people. Middle class wages are decreasing, income inequality is increasing, payroll taxes went up for everyone last month, gas prices are rising, and employment is stagnant, especially for veterans. Real people are paying a real price for Washington dysfunction.

Wake up Washington, wake up. Cut the bullshit. Cut the scare tactics. Role up your sleeves. Work together. And for God sakes Mr. President, lead. Political posturing is not leading. Giving speeches is not leading. Be honest—be courageous—tell hard truths—and forge tough solutions…that is leadership.

Today is a sad day for America.  But the worse part is what we are hoisting on the backs of our children…a future of debt, doubt, and decline.

But our fight continues, and we carry on.

Join CVA and help us fight for policies that preserve our freedoms and restore our prosperity. The future of our nation depends on it.