I will admit that I have almost ignored sequestration, but recently I’ve had a few of my friends ask about my stance, so here it is.
I don’t believe it should amount to much. I believe that political posturing and the associated drama and exaggeration will have the largest negative economic effects. The small reductions in bloated federal spending should NOT represent a substantial cut to the goods and services this country provides. Why am I so dismissive? Numbers.
The sequestration dollars specified in the Budget Control Act of 2011 represents a cut of $109B in the 2013 overall budget of $3,807 billion or about 2.86% (see White House Table S-1.) This is almost $80 billion more than the $3,729 billion 2012 Budget. The sequestration plan, proposed by the White House, specified that a large portion of the cuts would be from defense in hopes that failing to prevent military budget reductions would be politically unacceptable to House Republicans and therefore encourage them to compromise on the President’s desire to continue to expand Non-Defense Discretionary (NDD) spending. The President’s plan failed and now he’s trying to make the stakes higher.
I don’t want to invalidate the concerns people have regarding the impacts. Both military groups and promoters of specific social and educational programs have weighed in on how they believe they will be negatively affected including: the PTA, AAP, Public Health, and other groups. Some of the cuts will hurt, but I suspect that a lot of pain will be self inflicted for political gain.
To steal from a favorite educator, intellectual, and author of mine, Thomas Sowell:
Back in my teaching days, many years ago, one of the things I liked to ask the class to consider was this: Imagine a government agency with only two tasks: (1) building statues of Benedict Arnold and (2) providing life-saving medications to children. If this agency’s budget were cut, what would it do?
The answer, of course, is that it would cut back on the medications for children. Why? Because that would be what was most likely to get the budget cuts restored. If they cut back on building statues of Benedict Arnold, people might ask why they were building statues of Benedict Arnold in the first place.
Defense Spending Cuts Triggered by Sequestration