Commentary

May 10, 2012

Military crippling sequester must be stopped

by Buck McKeon and Paul Ryan
U.S. House of Representatives

Last year, as the federal government approached a limit on how much it could legally borrow, the Obama administration asked Congress to rubber-stamp an increase in the government’s borrowing authority without any spending cuts to match.

When House Republicans made clear that any increase in the debt limit must be accompanied by an even greater amount of spending reduction, the President insisted that he would not accept a debt-limit deal that did not include large tax increases on American families and businesses.

All of this work was made more difficult by the Senate’s failure to pass any budgets at all in 2010 or 2011. Nevertheless, both parties were eventually able to come together and avoid defaulting on the government’s obligations.

We succeeded in protecting hardworking taxpayers by securing a debt-limit increase that contained zero tax hikes.

Instead, we established caps on spending for government agencies, saving roughly $1 trillion over the next decade.

And we established a Joint Select Committee in Congress tasked with producing at least $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction. This “supercommittee” was backstopped by an automatic, across-the-board spending cut known as a sequester.

This sequester was never intended to be policy. It was meant to be something both parties wished to avoid, in order to motivate members of the supercommittee to work together.

Despite a good-faith effort to avoid the sequester, the supercommittee’s negotiations broke down over fundamental differences in visions for our nation’s future.

In our view, we shouldn’t be taking more from hardworking Americans to fix Washington’s mistakes. Instead, we should be solving the problem with structural reforms to our entitlement programs to make them strong and sustainable.

Leading Democrats have a different view, and the supercommittee was unable to do its work. As a result, the 2013 sequester is scheduled to impose a $109 billion, across-the-board, inflexible, and arbitrary cut in spending on January 2, 2013.

There is strong bipartisan agreement that the sequester is bad policy and should be replaced.

Sequestration would have a crippling effect on our Armed Forces. Although defense spending accounts for less than 20 percent of the federal budget, half of the deficit reduction efforts to date have come out of defense.

Obama administration officials have testified that sequestration could break the back of a military stretched thin by three years of cuts and ten years of war.

Sequestration would force the greatest Armed Forces in history to its knees, resulting in the smallest Army since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1916, and the smallest Air Force in our history.

We would risk ceding our special role in world affairs to countries such as Russia and China, who are both vastly expanding their military power.

We would risk breaking faith with our all-volunteer military, reneging on sacred promises made to care for the health and well-being of our troops and our veterans.

We would risk the gains made against global terrorism and risk our ability to prevent another September 11th attack.

And we would tacitly accept what our military leadership calls an extraordinary and unacceptable degree of danger in a strategically uncertain and perilous time.

In addition to this threat to our national security, the sequester would also impose deep cuts to programs like the National Institutes of Health and border security, squeezing critical priorities while letting entitlement spending remain on autopilot.

This week, the House is taking action to avoid these dire results by replacing the sequester with common-sense spending reductions that members of both parties should be able to support.

For instance, we propose to stop waste in the food-stamp program by ensuring that individuals are actually eligible for the taxpayer benefits they receive. That shouldn’t be a partisan issue. That’s common sense.

Another issue: We all believe in a strong federal workforce. But federal workers are currently receiving retirement benefits that are far out of line with those received by their private-sector counterparts. Our proposal simply asks federal workers to share more equitably in the cost of their retirement benefits.

The reforms we’re advancing this week will also save billions of taxpayer dollars by prohibiting future bailouts for “too big to fail” institutions. We need to be ending the concept of “too big to fail,” not enshrining it with a permanent bailout fund.

These savings will replace the arbitrary sequester cuts and lay the groundwork for further efforts to avert the spending-driven economic crisis before us.

Unless we act, the sequester will take effect. We do not believe this is in the national interest, and the President claims that he agrees. There is no reason why we cannot work together.

House Republicans are bringing specific proposals to the table. If the Democrats mean what they say, it is time for them to work with us to spare our troops from the consequences of Washington’s failures.

McKeon of California serves as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Ryan of Wisconsin serves as Chairman of the House Budget Committee.

 

Editor’s note: This op-ed first appeared on the Website www.realclearpolitics.com May 9.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines April 23, 2014

News: U.S. conducts spy flights over Russia - After a tit-for-tat series of delays, the United States conducted an Open Skies Treaty intelligence flight over Russian territory April 21, a State Department official said.  Army paratroopers heading to Poland after Russian annexation of Crimea - U.S. Army paratroopers are arriving in Poland to begin a series of...
 
 

News Briefs April 23, 2014

U.S. military deaths in Afghanistan at 2,177 As of April 22, 2014, at least 2,177 members of the U.S. military had died in Afghanistan as a result of the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, according to an Associated Press count. The AP count is one less than the Defense Department’s tally. At least...
 
 

Northrop Grumman sets new greenhouse gas emission reduction goal of 30 percent by 2020

Northrop Grumman announced April 22 its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent from 2010 levels by 2020, as part of its commemoration of Earth Day.   “Northrop Grumman is dedicated to top performance in environmental sustainability,” said Wes Bush, chairman, chief executive officer and president. “This new goal sets the bar significantly...
 

 

Lockheed Martin demonstrates enhanced ground control system, software for small UAV

Lockheed Martin’s Group 1 family of unmanned aircraft systems is migrating to enhanced automation capabilities using its Kestrelô “Fly Light” flight control systems and industry-leading mobile Ground Control Station software. The increased automation allows operators to focus on executing the mission, rather than flying various aircraft. Earlier this year, Lockheed MartinR...
 
 

U.S. Navy awards General Dynamics $33 million to operate, maintain military sealift ships

The U.S. Navy has awarded General Dynamics American Overseas Marine LLC a $32.7 million contract modification to operate and maintain seven large, medium-speed, roll-on / roll-off ships for the Military Sealift Command. AMSEA is a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics. Under the terms of the modification, AMSEA will provide services including crewing, engineering, maintenance,...
 
 

US Navy deploys Standard Missile-3 Block IB for first time

In partnership with the Missile Defense Agency, the U.S. Navy deployed the second-generation Standard Missile-3 Block IB made by Raytheon for the first time, initiating the second phase of the Phased Adaptive Approach. “The SM-3 Block IB’s completion of initial operational testing last year set the stage for a rapid deployment to theater,” said Dr....
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>