Countdown to Sequestration: One Month to Go

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Hardly seems like it was eight months ago today that Battleland began its monthly countdown to the pain of sequestration:

“That’s nine months from today,” we noted back on April 2. “Seems like a long time, but it’ll be here before you know it.”

If Congress and President Obama can’t agree on $1.2 trillion in spending cuts and/or tax revenues for the coming decade, the Pentagon faces up to $600 billion in spending cuts over the coming decade (atop a already-implemented $487 billion reduction in its spending plans). It would be painful because the cuts would be largely across the board, at least in the first year.

The deadline is only 31 days away, per last year’s Budget Control Act:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the Center for a New American Security last month that the topic surfaced while he was meeting with his southeast Asian counterparts in Perth, Australia.

“One of the defense ministers said, `You know, it’s great that you’re rebalancing to the Pacific, but can you sustain that when you have a Congress that is prepared to do sequester or walk off a fiscal cliff?'” Panetta recalled. “I said, `That issue whether our democracy can truly function, and have leaders that are prepared to make the decisions that have to be made in order for this country to govern itself, is, I think, you know, the issue that will determine ultimately whether we have national security.”

Well, sequestration – if it happens — is going to be painful, messy and disruptive. But paring U.S. military spending back to 2007’s level, which is what the sequester would do, won’t eliminate national security.

Recent inactivity and posturing, by both Obama and congressional Republicans, suggest that if the perils of Panetta are to be avoided, it’s going to happen at the last minute.

Probably best, then, to write your plans for New Year’s Eve in pencil.