The March 1, 2013 deadline in the 2011 Budget Control Act is approaching. The Sequester, as it has been named, seems imminent. Congress is currently on recess; and upon their return, they will have only 4 days to hash out an agreement on budget cuts. The Budget Control Act implemented pending foolish and harsh spending cuts in an effort to force Republicans and Democrats to compromise on federal spending. The plan did not work.
The Department of Defense retains a 17 percent of the budget but is facing 49.5 percent of the cuts. Military cannot be furloughed. In preparation for the cuts, the Defense Department has sent out required notification to nearly 800,000 federal employees of the furlough program going into effect the end of April. The furlough will consist of one required furlough day a week for 22 weeks without pay. That is 22 lost days of work, the equivalent of one month’s salary. Many will scoff at that repeating a common belief that federal workers are lazy and do not produce in any equivalency to what they are paid.
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter points out who the real victims wills be in this furlough. Across the board cuts do not distinguish between essential and nonessential positions. Of the jobs projected to be furloughed, 44 percent of the workers are veterans. The federal workforce consists of about 2 million people. The 800,000 facing the effects of sequestration include a sizable amount of disabled veterans.
Essential positions will receive protection through waivers approved by the pentagon. Military services and defense agencies will maintain a minimum staff for the safety of property and safety of life. Military hospitals will maintain medical staff to continue services and care of the wounded. Defense Department schools will retain sufficient staff to keep accreditation.
The key players all seem to be playing the blame game. “There is no mistaking that the rigid nature of the cuts forced upon this department, and their scale, will result in a serious erosion of readiness across the force,” said Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta. “If Congress allows this meat-cleaver approach to take place, it will jeopardize our military readiness,” President Obama said in a speech Tuesday morning. “As the commander in chief, President Obama is ultimately responsible for our military readiness,” House Speaker John A. Boehner said. “So it’s fair to ask: what is he doing to stop [these cuts] that would ‘hollow out’ our Armed Forces?”
The actual impact of the sequester is highly debated. Projection runs the gambit from not enough to amount to any difference to devastating effects on the economy. It may force a reform on out of control defense spending and get the Department of Defense to come up with a better bang for the buck budget. While the economic and national security impact remains to be seen, sequestration does little to improve the nation’s deficit issue. A major player in the debt is an aging population, rising health care cost and inadequate funding revenues. The Budget Control Act will merely delay the national debt from reaching 100 percent of gross domestic product by two years.