Monday, July 29, 2013

The Sequester

     I know this is an old topic and I am surprised I haven't talked about it before because I really enjoy this subject. The reason I decided to talk about it was because I am see a petition to stop the sequester and I wanted to talk about it. For those of you who don't know (or have forgotten) what sequestration is I will explain before we get in the the whole petition thing. Sequestration was put into place because our government tends to have a hard time making cuts and forming a budget. So sequestration is mandatory spending cut across the board. Douglas Holtz-Eakin who is the former head of the Congressional Budget Office explained the sequester like this: "[W]hen you get underneath the surface, the federal budget is divided into thousands of different accounts...Each account gets cut by the same amount, regardless of what's in it. So, we have some accounts that are payroll, some accounts that are conferences, travel, whatever it may be. They'll get the same cut, regardless of what's in there." This eliminates the gridlock and forces the government to do something (or nothing as the case was). I won't get into the nitty gritty politics but lets just say our government refuses to work together. Very few people like the idea because it was (and still is) blown out of proportion. Many politicians made it out to be the end of the world but honestly it had little to no real impact. I was (and still am) one of the few people who though the sequester was a good idea. The sequestration wan't a cut in current spending. *Gasp* It was a cut in spending increases. The sequester is like gaining 25 pounds instead of 30 and saying you lost 5 pounds. Here is a fantastic article about keeping the sequester. It was written right after the sequester went into place and you can read it Here. (Please at least read the bold tags I felt like putting the article directly in the post would make it too long.)
     I know what you are thinking. What about defense budget? Ok I will admit that there is a slight problem here BUT that doesn't mean that the entire sequester should be taken away for several reasons. First we still have the largest military in the world. This chart from the Washington Post compares our military budget with the next 13 nations combined. Now I know this was 2011 but if you refer to the numbers you will see that spending has only increased and we would have to cut our budget a heck of a lot to change it.
      Second, we have withstood bigger cuts in our defense budget. According to the same article by the Washington Post: the Post-Korea budget decreased by 43%, Post-Vietnam -33%, and Post-Cold War -36%. We cut about 31% with the Sequester and budget caps. (Those numbers are from the Center for Strategic and International Studies)
      Now those of you who work for the military or have family in the military probably hate me right now and think I have everything all wrong. Just bare with me and I will explain. There is something amazing and wonderful that I advocated before the sequester happened. The president can grant something called Transfer Authority. It is fully explained in this article but here is an overview of what it says. Transfer Authority allows the given company to shift the cuts where ever they like. They still have to cut the exact same amount but they can pick and choose which departments or programs loose some (or all) of their funding. We saw that both high-priority and low-priority programs received cuts equally. If the president had granted the military Transfer Authority only low-priority programs would have received the cuts and those high-priority programs wouldn't feel nearly as much pain. If anything we need to make sure the military had this power. Cuts are necessary but it would make it a lot easier for the military if they got to choose which programs to cut from instead of everything being cut. We needed the sequester in fact it wasn't nearly enough. I wouldn't advise signing the petition but if you have different views go for it. I just hoped I made you slightly more aware of what the sequester did as well as an alternative for our military.

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