Sequester: Muster the Bluster

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Many have predicted that the January 2, 2013 “sequester” of $55 billion out of the $620+ billion Pentagon budget for 2013 would cause a lot of noise, even hysteria, during the presidential and congressional elections.

How right they were. But as usual, the politicians, the advocates and the pundits are paying attention to themselves, not the data.

Government Executive magazine is running two sides of the debate in its August issue. My argument is that the post-sequester spending levels for the Pentagon are historically very generous, and the “mindless” across the board cutting drill is not inevitable; any president worth having could use the opportunity to impose some desperately needed discipline on the out-of-control Pentagon.

Marion C. Blakey, the president of the defense manufacturers’ Aerospace Industries Association, writes a contrasting column that shares the page with mine.  In trying to foment hysteria, she does not disappoint.

One of her assertions caught my eye: “During the next decade, defense funding would fall to the lowest level since World War II” is how she describes the budget impact of sequestration.

Really? Check out the chart below from the Defense Department’s annual “Greenbook” of all budget-related facts and figures . Do you see where sequester — the red line — takes military spending to its “lowest level since World War II”?   Neither do I.