Sequestration’s Shadow Darkens

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House and Senate Republican leaders released a letter Friday — the 13th — that will effectively kill an increasingly favored option in Washington to temporarily delay the onset of sequestration (automatic budget cuts) by three or six months.

It comes on the heels of President Obama’s former campaign manager floating the idea that Senate Democrats should consider a six-month delay of sequestration in order to avoid poorly-timed WARN Act notices offered on the eve of the November elections across the country to aerospace, shipbuilding and defense workers.

The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification act requires employers of a certain size to notify their employees when mass layoffs may be coming so they can prepare. In most states, the act mandates that employers must provide at least 60 days’ notice before possible layoff notification. In New York and California, employers must provide 90 days notice, however.

Because sequestration goes into effect on January 2, 2012, these pink-slip precursors would go out around October 4 in New York and California, and November 2 in most other states.

The effect of thousands of employees receiving word that their jobs could disappear in a few short months before the election could dramatically swing the vote against incumbents, including the President.

Welcome to the politics of the WARN act. A sequestration delay had been growing in popularity to free up more time to find a comprehensive solution to the problem (including broader tax reform) and now to avoid the inconvenient timing of WARN act notifications.

The Republican position is now simple: either find a one year “fix” to the 2013 sequestration cuts — preferably soon, but in lame duck session if necessary — or else sequestration goes into effect January 2.

Republicans are not the only ones digging in their heels. In response to a letter from House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) urging Senate action to address sequestration’s impact on the U.S. military, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) sent a curt reply that chastised the chairman for urging the Senate to “renege on spending cuts.” The Majority Leader attempted to lay the blame for sequestration at the feet of Congressional Republicans, Mitt Romney, Grover Norquist, and the Tea Party.

The tone of the letter is not that of someone seemingly searching for a compromise anytime soon. Despite ongoing bipartisan talks in the Senate to find a compromise solution to sequestration in 2013, the Majority Leader seems to be preparing for a long battle.

This is bad news for the military, the defense manufacturing workforce, and the country. Sequestration’s shadow is already bearing consequences for the Pentagon and industry. The military cannot afford this magnitude of additional budget cuts, and those in uniform certainly don’t deserve to be hostages in a much larger political fight.

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dino rizzo
dino rizzo

the Gop needs to campaign on this..give us a GOP senate, and Romney and we will stop it..the dems are showing their true colors...on the backs of the fighting men and women..harry reid is a disgrace


Text excerpt: “The military cannot afford this magnitude of additional budget cuts”

Why not?

After Vietnam the draft was abolished and even the U.S. nukes were greatly reduced together with the Soviet nukes (and meanwhile even the Soviets themselves disappeared, and the Warsaw Pact, raising questions about N.A.T.O.'s purpose, too), but the conventional strength of the U.S. Armed Forces must remain always untouched? Even in the middle of a Global Depression? Is the World so dangerous today?

If the U.S. Armed Forces were downsized to exactly one half (but retaining their best hardware and personnel), they would have only 729.109 active soldiers left instead of the current 1.458.219, dropping from 2nd biggest in the size ranking of all armed forces to 6th biggest. So what? Even then, who in the World would threaten the U.S.A. with destruction? Who EVER threatens ANY of the seven biggest armed forces of the World with destruction?

(Scroll down until you reach the table. In the top line of this table, go to the third column called “Active Military”. On the right side of that name there are two small, black triangles: One triangle points upwards, the other one points downwards. Click TWICE on any small black triangle of your choice, and you'll see all armed forces sorted by ascending size. Then look where the U.S.A. would be with “only” 729.109 active soldiers left. Afterwards, you can click on the small, black triangles of the other columns, too: Guess – or find out by clicking twice on a triangle – which country has the largest “paramilitary” force in the World? He he)

But if this is only about creating jobs, not about genuine “Defense” anymore, then are there really no other, more productive sectors and businesses in the economy (in all States) that could benefit the U.S.A. much better with half of the D.o.D. budget? At least the national debt could be paid back faster with it, thus lowering the interests, too! This in turn could avoid the worst fate for the dollar, for the U.S. economy and for the U.S.A. themselves.

And no, I'm not talking about an invasion.


 I like what you say, except...

In my opinion, there must be some "buffer" program that allows the absorption of those 700,000+ hitting the labor force.  There must be a coordinated effort among monetary policies, taxing strategy, etc. that provide an incentive for those "productive sectors and businesses in the economy" to hire.  The government, IMHO, has the obligation to be the stimilantthat makes it all possible.  And under the current Republican opposition to anything that even resembles a tax, it will not happen.

dino rizzo
dino rizzo

its the dems fault and obama has no leadership ability you think all these stalemates would happen under Reagan or even Bush 43? of course not, because they knew how to lead..obama is an amateur


John Boehner is the third most powerful man in the country (and arguably the second). Is it your contention that he needs the President's leadership to get his job done? Is Speaker Boehner so lacking in his own leadership abilities that he needs help from the President?

I think the President has shown a lot of leadership. He has made every effort to work with republicans for the benefit of the country. I have seen no indication that republicans want to work with the President on any issue of great importance.

As for Reagan and Bush 43, neither of them would have been nominated in today's political climate. They were too liberal!


If you want such a profound reform to take place still before dinner, yes, then that can get expensive. But, as I said, since this is only one one-off payment for a much larger saving (and subsequent reinvestment in the civilian economy. Ideally even in the most labour-intensive businesses), in the end it would even be fully worth it.

However if you can't, or, in the case of the antediluvian, sclerosed, reactionary, reform-blocking Republicans, if you DON'T WANT to make this huge one-time payment to produce an even larger economic recovery, then why don't you do it slowly, gradually, by simply waiting until most of the present contracts with the temporarily hired U.S. soldiers cease, and don't renew nor replace them afterwards? (Although that's not what we French would call a “reform”)

Or you simply wait for better economic times to arrive (if you think the U.S. economy can afford that luxury, and that U.S. politicians will also be sufficiently self-controlled and systematic when that happens), and as the G.D.P. goes up, you use the increased federal revenues to halven, reform, streamline and maximize the efficiency of the U.S. Armed Forces.

In the meantime, the U.S. Armed Forces themselves could also

1) get rid of all their obsolete and even of their superfluous equipment, as I said before. That alone will save money, too,


2) avoid AT ALL COSTS buying obsolete, ineffective, unpayable NEW equipment like the F-35 program, the L.C.S. program, the “Zumwalt” program, the stupid “Ospreys”, etc., etc., etc. .

3) Hell, on the military Web-sites “Defensetech” and “DoD Buzz” I even used to make several, several pages long simulations about how the U.S. Armed Forces could be BETTER EQUIPPED at simultaneously less than ½ of the same cost, if they just license-built several superior foreign designs for all their branches, including for their respective, redundant institutions! (Call it open markets, something the U.S.A. defend a lot abroad) Bearing in mind that the latest U.S. weaponry is generally more high-priced package than content, maybe the U.S. American military-industrial complex would even benefit from a regular infusion of foreign brainpower? But you need an open mind to admit that possibility, and I suspect that the U.S.A.'s present “Hyper-Power” status messes with the open minds of too many Americans.

4) And how many HUNDREDS (!!!!!) of foreign bases in 150 (!) different countries around the World do the U.S. Armed Forces really need... just to watch Iran, North Korea and China?

Start eliminating:

(Can you see the elephant stuck in the door?)

5) Not occupying, not invading nor attacking other countries in the next 30 years – except in strict, genuine self-defense, which will obviously never happen – “could also help” to reduce the Pentagon's bill...

Trust me, there is ABSOLUTELY NO SHORTAGE of many, much more down-to-earth ideas out there, and even of good and brilliant ideas, about how to fight waste and corruption in the Pentagon, and how to use this money better, more productively, EVEN WITHOUT the need to halve any maximum numbers! It's all a human, organizational, political problem, not one of national security. Never was, not since the end of the Cold War.

Unless, of course, you believe in the existence of “terrorists”.


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