The sequester is a bad plan . . . except compared to the alternatives

Byline: | Category: Government, Military, Taxes & Spending | Posted at: Thursday, 21 February 2013

Let me first stipulate that the best plan would contemplate cuts across the entire budget:  to so-called entitlements as well as to defense and discretionary spending.  (BTW, it’s all discretionary spending as no Congress can obligate a subsequent Congress to its laws.)

That being said, for all the sturm and drang over a paltry 2% cut that leaves 2013 budget still greater than was spent in 2012, the secquester isn’t that bad.  Yes, the brunt of the cuts falls on defense.  So?  Quite frankly, it’s not nearly enough.  And if there’s that much waste in DoD where I work, I’m sure I could find even more in the other departments.

Here’s the problem for those on both sides of the aisle.  Nearly everybody to the right of Paul Krugman acknowledges that federal spending has to come down.  But when it comes down to making actual cuts, it’s always going to be easier to find 51% support for any program than there it is to just make across-the-board cuts.In a perfect world, we would target entire agencies and programs for closure.  (I propose a LIFO rule:  last-in, first-out; first to go Obamacare, Homeland Security, Medicare Part D, then the Departments of Energy and Education . . . )  But we don’t live in a perfect world.

I’ve seen this drama play out in a small way at EUCOM where we tried to trim staff, but in doing so, actually added bodies.  Cuts only came when they were mandated across the board.  It’s just the nature of bureaucracy that every department, agency, or directorate can argue successfully for more, even while it recognizes the existence of excess across the entire enterprise.

So let sequestration happen.  Who cares who gets the blame.  If anything, I’m blaming Republicans for not making the sequester cut deeply enough.

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Similar thoughts at NRO.

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