Congress appears to be heading down a slippery slope, and the result is that the American people — especially those around military bases — could be the ones in for a long and bumpy ride.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Congress may be willing to let a March 1 deadline pass, resulting in the automatic budget cuts that are called sequestration.
Some may argue that cuts are needed, and we agree. The estimated $100 billion will help in terms of the deficit spending that is currently taking place.
But the method of these anticipated cuts is the issue. Sequestration means the cuts will take place across the entire spectrum of spending.
Defense spending will be cut at the same rate as say spending on research, such as $325,000 the National Science Foundation spent on development of a robotic squirrel, according to Sen. Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) Waste Book 2012.
During this economic downturn, no family in America has likely come up with across the board cuts. Families understand that there are priorities, and cutting out a movie night may be more important than cutting money on a child’s school supplies or on electricity. An item may be cut completely, while another item may not be cut at all.
That’s why the sequestration cuts make no sense and why Congress needs to act to prevent them. Congress needs to understand that some programs are more valuable and are more cost effective than others and that ineffective programs should be targeted for elimination, while other programs should be left standing.
Cuts in defense could very well leave this country weak at a time when it needs to be strong. Problems exist across the world that may need the attention of the United States, and the country needs to be in a position to react swiftly and strongly.
Leon Panetta, outgoing secretary of defense, said last week that sequestration would result in cuts to training and maintenance that would reduce the readiness of our armed forces. He urged Congress to act.
"This is not a game. This is reality," he said. "These steps would seriously damage the fragile American economy, and they would degrade our ability to respond to crisis precisely at a time of rising instability across the globe — North Africa to the straits of Hormuz, from Syria to North Korea."
Locally, civilian workers at Cherry Point could see furloughs. Area contractors who do business on base could see cuts. Those workers will have less money to spend at area businesses, and the entire region’s economy could suffer.
Cuts are needed, but the across-the-board indiscriminant cuts that sequestration would bring are not.