Sequestration: When spending habits jeopardize national security

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Washington, D.C. , Sep 18, 2013 | Jen Talaber (202.225.2931) | comments
Washington Times - September 18, 2013

Terrorists committed to the destruction of our way of life. Rogue regimes, hostile nations, and foreign militants seeking to do our country harm. Weapons of mass destruction. The growing military capabilities of nations who do not share our values. Cyberwarfare. 

There are undoubtedly other threats to our nation’s security. But there is a self-inflicted threat that jeopardizes the ability of the United States to take on these other challenges. Out-of-control federal spending and the failure to stem it led us to a “solution” that is untenable and incompatible with the security of the United States. This “solution”— Sequestration —devastates our capacity to “provide for the common defense.” 

This is the federal government’s most essential function, prescribed by the Constitution, and is the cornerstone of our liberties, upon which all other liberties and guarantees rely. A strong national defense not only allows the U.S. to react to acts of war quickly and effectively; it also serves as a deterrent to those who seek to do us harm. This security is the foundation upon which our freedoms are based. Simply put, the latter cannot exist without the former.

However, this requires providing the Department of Defense (DoD) with the necessary resources. That does not mean that DoD spending should be held harmless. In order to drastically cut spending, we must look everywhere in the federal budget, including the DoD, in a responsible, thoughtful, and targeted fashion.

Sequestration, which took effect earlier this year, accomplishes the exact opposite. It mandates arbitrary, across-the-board spending cuts to the DoD. By taking a blunt instrument to our national defense rather than a surgical, introspective look at the Department’s budget, the path of lazy legislating led to the flawed policy of sequestration that will add to the pressure on our already shrinking DoD budget. 

Since taking office, President Obama has already slashed $350 billion from various weapons programs, and put in motion a plan to take $487 billion out of defense budgets. Sequestration slashes another $492 billion from defense and dramatically impacts the United States’ ability to protect its citizens and interests around the world.

In fact, sequestration will shrink our military to its weakest position in decades: shrinking our navy to its smallest size since before World War II, diminishing our ground forces to their smallest size since before World War I, and severely inhibiting necessary modernizations and acquisitions of equipment. 

In light of recent developments in Syria and Iran, and at a time when potential adversaries are ramping up their defense capabilities and budgets, this is especially dangerous. We are asking our servicemen and women to do increasingly more with much less. 

These draconian cuts will not only leave us with a weakened national defense, but with a weakened economy as well. Sequestration stands to further devastate our already-suffering manufacturing sector. It is estimated that more than one million jobs could be lost nationally due to sequestration, resulting in higher unemployment and a reduction in U.S. GDP growth. 

My home state of Georgia, with its strong military presence and proud tradition of service, stands to lose more than 54,000 jobs. In a recent visit to Warner Robins Air Force Base, its impact was evident. Aircraft repairs and maintenance were backed up, workers and families were grappling with furloughs, and base commanders expressed concerns that other operations would be negatively affected as well. 

These reasons are why House Republicans have voted twice to replace sequestration with common sense reforms to curb the federal government’s irresponsible, “autopilot” spending.  Republicans replaced haphazard, dangerous cuts by eliminating Obamacare slush funds, reducing waste and duplicative programs, combating fraud in government programs, and reforming entitlement programs.

Sequestration fails to account for our military operational and readiness requirements. We must always balance the need for fiscal discipline with our national security responsibilities. When we attempt to balance our nation’s budget on the backs of our servicemembers and veterans, we put all Americans at risk.
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