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Sequestration Is Still Better than the Alternatives

February 7, 2013 in Economics

By Christopher A. Preble

Christopher A. Preble

Late last year, then-Republican Study Committee Chairman

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said of the impending sequester
, “The
only thing that’s worse than cutting national defense is not having
any scheduled cuts at all.”

It turns out, there is something worse: no cuts, or only modest
ones, far less than was called for under sequestration, and
additional taxes to cover the difference. That is what we are
likely to see if President Obama gets his way. In a last-minute bid
to avert the spending cuts mandated under the 2011 Budget Control
Act, the president on Tuesday offered a package of short-term
spending cuts and tax reforms in lieu of automatic cuts. Then, on
Wednesday, the White House continued its full-court
stop-the-sequester press by meeting with a group of defense
contractor CEOs.

But while many Republicans seem anxious to accept such a deal,
the GOP should stand fast. U.S. taxpayers already spend too much on
the military, in part because we expect our military to do too
much. We could achieve substantial savings, at least as much as is
foreseen under sequestration, if we revisit the military’s
missions, and adapt our capabilities to meet new threats.

Spending is not
the best measure of military effectiveness, and conservatives,
especially, should know this.”

First, some context. The United States spends far more for
everything lumped under the rubric “national security” than any
other country — both in real terms, and on a per capita basis
— and total spending remains high by historical standards.
Spending on defense and international security assistance actually


from 2011 to 2012
by about $11 billion, from $718 to $729
billion. (The Mercatus Center’s
Veronique de Rugy calculates
that a more accurate total,
including the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Homeland
Security, approaches nearly $930 billion.) According to
the CBO’s latest estimates
, the Pentagon’s base budget under
sequestration will average about $542 billion per year from 2014 to
2021, and that doesn’t include war costs. That is more than we
spent during most years of the Cold War, even after adjusting for

Spending is not the best measure of military effectiveness, and
conservatives, especially, should know this. Some still do. A

letter signed by eight different organizations
, including
Americans for Tax Reform, the National Taxpayers Union, and
Taxpayers for Common Sense, calls for “eliminating outdated, Cold
War-era weapons, cutting programs the military doesn’t even want,
reforming military health care programs, and closing unneeded
bases.” Such reforms, the letter concludes, “will not only save
taxpayers billions, they will also make our nation stronger by
helping safeguard …read more
Source: OP-EDS  

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