Republicans, and many Democrats, are upset by the prospect of so-called sequestration cuts to the nation’s defense budget. Pentagon chief Leon Panetta is so alarmed that the day before the Senate took up what became the “fiscal cliff” agreement, he called a key Republican lawmaker, Sen. Lindsey Graham, to express deep concern that the cuts might go into effect. As it turned out, Congress put them off for two months.
Sequestration would force the government to reduce discretionary spending by about $1.2 trillion over the next decade. Roughly half of that, or $600 billion, would come from defense — a hugely disproportionate amount to take from the Pentagon. And the cuts would be the worst possible sort: everything slashed, across the board, good programs and bad.
That’s no accident. Sequestration was designed to be so awful that Congress would find a better way to cut spending. So far, that hasn’t happened.