Job losses, reduced government incomes loom as primary threats of defense sequestration

THE MIL & AERO VIDEO BLOG, 18 Sept. 2012. Well, the specter of sequestration is looming ever larger, as the clock ticks down on the early January deadline for what some are calling the "doomsday scenario" for U.S. defense spending.

It's formally known as sequestration, or automatic cuts of 1.2 trillion dollars in about twelve hundreds federal programs over the next decade.

Sequestration, which would go into effect in early January, would hit the U.S. military budget the hardest -- $492 billion over the next 10 years -- and those involved with the defense budget are starting to get panicky.

Just last week I went to a news conference in New Hampshire that is a microcosm of what's going on all over our nation. BAE Systems, the state's largest employer, sponsored a sequestration-warning event that involved every member of New Hampshire's congressional delegation, who came together as they rarely do to make appeals for Congress to come up with some kind of controlled spending reductions that would head-off the anticipated Draconian cuts of sequestration.

Okay, New Hampshire's congressional delegation only consists of four people -- two U.S. congressmen and two senators, so it's not THAT hard to get them all in once place, but this delegation has Republicans and Democrats who ... what with the intense partisan divide in our country in recent years ... really don't like each other all that much, and have very different ideas of how Congress should act to prevent sequestration.

That seems to be the problem, at the end of the day. Members of Congress ... so far, at least ... haven't come up with a plan they can all agree on to stop these indiscriminate federal budget cuts, so increasingly it looks like they'll do nothing and let the automatic cuts take place.

For New Hampshire, that means a potential loss of sixty-three-hundred jobs, state revenue losses of $2.3 billion dollars, and a reduction of state business taxes paid of more than $32 million dollars, according to BAE figures.

Think about it; this is a small state. The same kind of panic is reverberating all over the nation, and these numbers pale in comparison to large states with substantial aerospace industries like California, New York, and Florida.

The President's Office of Management and Budget issued a report last week warning that sequestration would reduce the readiness of many non-deployed military units, delay military investments in new equipment and facilities, cut back on equipment repairs, force declines in military research and development, and cut base services for military families. The Federal Aviation Administration, furthermore, would see its ability reduced to manage the nation's air space and air traffic control, OMB warns.

The sequestration budget cuts were never supposed to happen. This portion of the Budget Control Act of 2011 was supposed to be so heinous as to force members of Congress to approve more controlled cuts. Sequestration structured to be unthinkable -- kind of like the old Cold War doctrine of mutually assured destruction.

Maybe I'm a little cynical, but I don't see anything likely to stop it at this stage. The November elections are coming up fast, and a lame-duck congressional session after the election will give members of congress little incentive to roll up their sleeves and deal with the issue.

Looks like the unthinkable is about to happen.

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