Commentary Magazine


Staving Off Sequestration

CNN’s Security Clearance blog raises a good question: Why isn’t the Pentagon planning for sequestration? On Jan. 1, 2013, the Defense Department could suffer more than $50 billion in cuts, the first part of $500 billion in cuts during ten years as a result of the Draconian sequestration process which is on autopilot. Yet the Pentagon has not released any budget documents to suggest that might wind up getting cut. Apparently the department has not even done such planning for internal purposes.

CNN explains the lack of planning as follows: “If you do have a list of items to cut, ‘you are showing that cuts are possible,’ and Congress would be more likely to go forward with them, according to Pentagon officials who were not authorized to discuss the details of sequestration on the record.”

Perhaps. But if you do have a list of items that will be cut it would also be possible to mobilize support from various constituencies to keep those projects alive by staving off sequestration. That is, in essence, the famous Washington Monument strategy supposedly utilized by the U.S. Park Service to stave off budget cuts by threatening to close a major tourist attraction. Why can’t the Pentagon pursue its own version of this strategy by threatening to close production lines, ground aircraft, mothball ships, close bases, etc., to bring home to lawmakers the horrific consequences of letting sequestration go forward?