The Defense Department "Sequester" – a budget gimmick originally described as "ridiculous" by Harry Reid and the President's Chief of Staff – has become a Gordian Knot that the White House and Congress have so far failed to unravel. Originally scheduled to be force implemented on January 1, 2013, it escaped solution during the New Year's Eve fiscal cliff fiasco. Instead, the problem was just kicked down the road a few more weeks with a new drop-dead date of March 1.
Rather than providing relief, the legislative inaction accentuates uncertainty and compresses even further the time frame in which the Pentagon would be forced to implement $45 billion of immediate cuts and $500 billion over the longer term.
It's no way to run an Army…or Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard for that matter.
Last May, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta warned that the $500 billion of DoD cuts would be "disastrous" to national security, hoping to get the attention of Congress and the White House for a timely solution. Eight months later, the Pentagon is still waiting.
On Thursday, Panetta and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey provided an ominous assessment of the consequences of inaction. Below are some key excerpts from the briefing and a link to an expanded Politico.com report.
No one seems to like or be willing to take responsibility for the sequester. But neither has anyone figured out how to avoid it.
During the third Presidential debate on October 22, 2012 Barack Obama lied when he said, “The sequester is not something that I've proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed.” But, as Bob Woodward documented in "The Price of Politics" the idea came right out of the White House.