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Could the Department of Defense have threatened an even more visible and provocative set of cuts?

Responding to sequester "cuts", Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta says they’ll be putting their nearly 800,000 civilian employees (just a bit more than the population of Guyana) on limited furlough. This will amount to 20% pay cuts for most employees. This seems like a hardship more extreme than any private citizen has had to bear during this recession.

Given that the US accounts for 41% of the entire world's military spending (more than the next 14 countries combined), one can imagine that decreasing the Pentagon's annual $707 billion budget by $46 billion (over 6%!) will be quite crippling.

Of course, the advertised $995 billion in "cuts" over the next 10 years is actually a $110 billion increase:

Most libertarians support national defense as a primary role of the federal government, as do I. But I ask: Is there such a thing as too much? If so, where would that be? Are press releases about dire cuts to visible and easily relatable sections of the budget disingenuously used to spark outrage and resistance, rather than focusing on unneeded programs, systems, and bases?

A federal government that is spending a trillion dollars more than it takes in EVERY YEAR is going to have to make real cuts, not just slow the increases. These real cuts will cause real pain and dislocation for people who make their living via the federal printing presses. At what point should government employees start accepting that pain, perhaps moving to the private economy? Before Uncle Sam has Greek-style woes? Or after?

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    Thomas Jefferson envisioned a nation that trades with others but doesn't get involved in their internal affairs. I don't know how realistic that is today but, in general, the founding fathers wanted a small government with checks and balances, not a carte blanche for the President to play war games.
    The immediate issue is that these threats by the Pentagon are part of a broader problem. Instead of coming up with cuts to discretionary spending, which would lessen the impact on the military, Obama and his administration are playing a game of chicken.
    See my comments under the topic "Raise The Ax".

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    Obama should have thought about what it was going to do when he passed it back in 2011. Cutting 5 cents on the dollar isn't going to be the end of the world. We need REAL cuts, not this phony Democrat nonsense.

    It's Obama's plan, he should take credit for what he agreed to back in 2011. More work, less vacations and playing golf.

    Hey, Mr. President, the campaign is over, go to work!


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      Everyone agrees that the purpose of the sequester was to force Congress to come up with a plan to balance the budget and pay down the deficit. The difference is how you do it. Obama got his tax increase on Jan 1st. Now he needs to focus in spending reductions, which he doesn't want to do. So all he has left is his campaign-style blame game. He knows that if this struggle continues the rest of his term will be fruitless. The Republicans also know this. The advantage now is that, as John Boehner said yesterday, the sequester will reduce spending, albeit the hard way. So the Republicans need to do nothing (except match the rhetoric and arguments) so that Americans will realize who is more fiscally responsible.

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    I agree. The Republicans proposed a plan to prevent the sequester back in June of 2012 but Harry Reid blocked it in the Senate. It's all Obama's fault now.

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    I do everything I can do. I'm looking towards 2014 right now.


  • A 20% pay cut is a "hardship more extreme than any private citizen has had to bear"? Tell that to all the people who got 100% pay cuts because they were thrown out of work. Government bureaucrats are overpaid by 10-20% compared to the private sector anyway, so some cuts are way overdue - and they do get time off to compensate.

    That said, I'd agree there would be more sensible places to make the cuts. The most sensible would be to adopt Republican proposals to reduce the rate of increase in medicare, medicaid, and social security. Within the defense department, accelerating the withdrawal from Afghanistan would have made more sense, but that wasn't an option Panetta had, given how the sequester worked.


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      Apologies, my sarcasm in the original post was not evident enough. I completely agree with your point about the relative hardships. A 20% pay cut is tough on anyone, but many non-public-sector Americans have been living through worse since this downturn began.

      Personally, I'm happy that any cuts were made, anywhere, with any effect. To the degree that any of these "cuts" were not actually increases, they are moves in the right direction. Sadly, they're also absurdly small and ineffective in comparison to the problems at hand.

      Targeted and deeper would have been better. But smaller increases are better than larger increases, cuts are better and smaller increases, and elimination of unnecessary agencies, systems, and facilities is even better.. Both domestically and militarily.

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