We are facing another financial deadline in Washington in three days. Not a fiscal cliff, nor a debt ceiling crisis. On Friday, March 1, if nothing happens, federal spending will automatically be cut by $85.4 billion. This so-called “sequester” was part of the deal to raise the debt ceiling. Republicans put in cuts for domestic programs, while Democrats put in cuts for the military. Both sides assumed that these would never go through, since they go against the respective priorities of each party, but it looks like they will. The Obama administration is decrying the cuts in apocalyptic terms, saying air traffic control will be shut down, our military will be crippled, the elderly will go hungry, and children will lose their schools. After the jump, see what will really be affected.
$42.7 billion in defense cuts (a 7.9 percent cut).
$28.7 billion in domestic discretionary cuts (a 5.3 percent cut).
$9.9 billion in Medicare cuts (a 2 percent cut).
$4 billion in other mandatory cuts (a 5.8 percent cut to nondefense programs, and a 7.8 percent cut to mandatory defense programs).
That makes for a total of $85.4 billion in cuts. . . .
More will be cut in 2014 and later; from 2014 to 2021, the sequester will cut $87 to $92 billion from the discretionary budget every year, and $109 billion total. . . .
[To break it down some more]
- Aircraft purchases by the Air Force and Navy are cut by $3.5 billion.
- Military operations across the services are cut by about $13.5 billion.
- Military research is cut by $6.3 billion.
- The National Institutes of Health get cut by $1.6 billion.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are cut by about $323 million.
- Border security is cut by about $581 million.
- Immigration enforcement is cut by about $323 million.
- Airport security is cut by about $323 million.
- Head Start gets cut by $406 million, kicking 70,000 kids out of the program.
- FEMA’s disaster relief budget is cut by $375 million.
- Public housing support is cut by about $1.94 billion.
- The FDA is cut by $206 million.
- NASA gets cut by $970 million.
- Special education is cut by $840 million.
- The Energy Department’s program for securing our nukes is cut by $650 million.
- The National Science Foundation gets cut by about $388 million.
- The FBI gets cut by $480 million.
- The federal prison system gets cut by $355 million.
- State Department diplomatic functions are cut by $650 million.
- Global health programs are cut by $433 million; the Millenium Challenge Corp. sees a $46 million cut, and USAID a cut of about $291 million.
- The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is cut by $55 million.
- The SEC is cut by $75.6 million.
- The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is cut by $2.6 million.
- The Library of Congress is cut by $31 million.
- The Patent and Trademark office is cut by $156 million.
George Will on what he considers the phony hysteria over how the sequester will allegedly cripple our government:
Batten down the hatches — the sequester will cut $85 billion from this year’s $3.6 trillion budget! Or: Head for the storm cellar — spending will be cut 2.3 percent! Or: Washington chain-saw massacre — we must scrape by on 97.7 percent of current spending! Or: Chaos is coming because the sequester will cut a sum $25 billion larger than was just shoveled out the door (supposedly, but not actually) for victims of Hurricane Sandy! Or: Heaven forfend, the sequester will cut 47 percent as much as was spent on the AIG bailout! Or: Famine, pestilence and locusts will come when the sequester causes federal spending over 10 years to plummet from $46 trillion all the way down to $44.8 trillion! Or: Grass will grow in the streets of America’s cities if the domestic agencies whose budgets have increased 17 percent under President Obama must endure a 5 percent cut!
The sequester has forced liberals to clarify their conviction that whatever the government’s size is at any moment, it is the bare minimum necessary to forestall intolerable suffering. At his unintentionally hilarious hysteria session Tuesday, Obama said: The sequester’s “meat-cleaver approach” of “severe,” “arbitrary” and “brutal” cuts will “eviscerate” education, energy and medical research spending. “And already, the threat of these cuts has forced the Navy to delay an aircraft carrier that was supposed to deploy to the Persian Gulf.”
“Forced”? The Navy did indeed cite the sequester when delaying deployment of the USS Truman. In the high-stakes pressure campaign against Iran’s nuclear weapons program, U.S. policy has been to have two carriers in nearby waters. Yet the Navy is saying it cannot find cuts to programs or deployments less essential than the Truman deployment. The Navy’s participation in the political campaign to pressure Congress into unraveling the sequester is crude, obvious and shameful, and it should earn the Navy’s budget especially skeptical scrutiny by Congress.
The Defense Department’s civilian employment has grown 17 percent since 2002. In 2012, defense spending on civilian personnel was 21 percent higher than in 2002. And the Truman must stay in Norfolk? This is, strictly speaking, unbelievable.
What do you think about the sequester? Isn’t it true that this gimmick, in which both parties sacrifice, is the only feasible way, given the current Congress, to reduce federal spending? And doesn’t that have to happen?