The political grandstanding around sequestration is shameful. As Bob Woodward described in his book The Price of Politics, the present crisis was not the product of ineptitude or misplaced priorities (who would have thought those would be considered lesser evils?). It has been caused by the conscious decisions of political leaders who have put their election priorities ahead of their duties to provide national security.
The sequestration formula mandated by the Budget Control Act has left us with the choice of a disastrous set of defense cuts (on top of those already instated) or accepting disastrous tax increases. This is a result of leaders who have stated that they are frankly comfortable with additional cuts to defense—as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said—and who desire massive increases in taxes to fund the unsustainable entitlement programs they heavily favor.
Reid has repeatedly said he will allow no alternative solution to the sequestration to even come to a vote, unless it contains substantial tax hikes. Likewise, the President has said he would veto legislation that protected the defense budget from the nearly half a trillion dollars in cuts without opponents accepting his vision of the budget, which includes tax hikes.
In the best of times, this would be considered an uncertain way forward. However, these are not the best of times. Even Administration officials have stopped saying that the war on terrorism is over and that we can reap a peace dividend similar to the Clinton years. The death of a U.S. ambassador and three of his colleagues last week made that tragically clear. America’s enemies are still out there and active. American leaders ignore these threats by shrinking our Armed Forces at our peril. We are only beginning to understand the ramifications of the upheaval in the Middle East after the Arab Spring, and al-Qaeda and Iran continue to bedevil the U.S and the free nations of the world.
How would sequestration affect our defense and security efforts? The dangerous cuts to operational programs, negative effects on the defense industrial base, dwindling abilities to fund the National Guard during domestic disasters, and recently identified cuts to the security programs of our embassies abroad all cry out for a reasonable, bipartisan solution. Our leaders cannot stand on ideological positions, and, Majority Leader Reid, accepting only one option is the definition of being ideologically rigid.
Everyone understands that politicians seek re-election, but their first duty must be to serve the people. Providing for the common defense is a paramount element of that service. Failing to deal appropriately with the self-destructive sequestration cuts is an abrogation of that responsibility.