Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Charge of the Sequester Brigade

I'm feeling harshly toward the Pentagon over the sequester. Perhaps I am too hasty in blaming the Pentagon for the form of this budget reduction despite past practices that would paint them as complicit in this debacle.

The Pentagon says they are helpless in how they allocate cuts under the sequester:

First, as you know, if sequestration goes into effect for the remainder of the year, it will require the Department of Defense to cut roughly $46 billion from the level of funding provided on the FY2013 continuing resolution, all in the last seven months of the fiscal year. By law, sequester would apply to all of the DOD budget, including wartime spending. The only exception is that the president has indicated his intent to exempt all military personnel funding from sequestration. While DOD leaders support this decision, it does not mean that other budget accounts will be cut by larger amounts to offset the exemption, and our current estimate is that these cuts will amount to nine percent.

In addition to requiring these large and sudden cuts, the law mandates that they be applied in a rigid, across-the-board manner, account by account, item by item. Cuts to the operating portions of the DOD budget must be equal in percentage terms at the level of appropriations accounts, for example, Army active operation and maintenance, Navy reserve operation and maintenance, and Air Force Guard operation and maintenance.

This is a good point. The military must carry out the law. As our new Secretary of State has advertised, Americans have the right to be stupid. Even when our government is carrying out that right with such enthusiasm, the military still has the duty to follow the law as passed by civilians.

Theirs is but to do and die, right?

So the ultimate responsibility for the stupidity is in the hands of the civilians who made the law. Thank goodness, we have a new civilian Secretary of Defense who can get right on this problem.

Wait. What? It's Chuck Hagel? We may have to wait. He's admitted he has much to learn to be the secretary. I imagine O-4s all over the Pentagon are preparing PowerPoint presentations going over the nuanced differences between sh*t and Shinola for him.

And the 7-month crash course in defense may just better prepare him for his planned role in gutting the Pentagon, anyway.

Our leaders in Congress could grant the president discretion in the defense budget or even just exempt operations and maintenance from the cuts. We are at war, you know.

I guess the Budget Wars never recede and mere enemies trying to kill us are secondary considerations. Never waste a manufactured crisis, I suppose.