Brian Darling

Conservatives in Congress are fighting to undo mandatory cuts to defense spending, slated to bite in January. Called “the Sequester,” these automatic cuts would gut important Pentagon programs, undermining our national security. Even worse, these automatic cuts do not distinguish between wasteful and efficient spending due to their mechanistic nature.

Last year’s debt limit agreement imposed $1.2 trillion in mandatory sequestered cuts, equally divided between defense and domestic programs, over 10 years. Very soon, Senators and Representatives will have to vote for or against retaining these scheduled cuts.

America’s aging arsenal has been depleted and worn down from a decade of hard use. Is now the time to let our force completely hollow out? Can we really afford to cash a “peace dividend” in a world loaded with bad actors like North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and Iranian strong man Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Our global foes and competitors know that America is scheduled to slash defense spending, and they stand ready to take advantage. Do we need any more evidence of the threats presented to the United States than Russia’s recent promise to preemptively strike and destroy U.S. led NATO missile defense sites in Eastern Europe? This is the type of bullying a nation can expect when it unilaterally weakens itself.

Many in Congress don’t believe in Ronald Reagan’s idea of “Peace through Strength.” Our nation needs to spend roughly 4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on defense to be able to preserve freedom. President Obama’s budget envisions chopping defense spending down to about 2.5% of GDP by 2022, and this does not account for the sequestration. Yet American liberals seem intent on using cuts to missile defense and other defense infrastructure programs as a means to curry favor with our enemies and to pay for liberal domestic priorities.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is fighting to undo the ill-advised agreement that lead to the debt limit increase. His “Sequester Replacement Act,” H.R. 4966, is being considered this week by the House Budget Committee, in anticipation of full House consideration. After the House passes this legislation, it will take up another bill to replace, among other cuts, the defense cuts with mandatory non-defense cuts over the next decade and discretionary cuts for Fiscal Year 2013.


Brian Darling

Brian Darling is a Senior Fellow in Government Studies at the Heritage Foundation. Follow him on Twitter @BrianHDarling