Reconfigure: To Jigger the Trigger

November 20th, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Now that the supercommittee seems to have gridlocked, we default to the automatic cuts—the sequester.  The fact that these are split evenly between defense and non-defense has some members of Congress* talking about “reconfiguring” the deal to take less from defense, and implicitly more from non-defense spending (entitlements are largely exempted from the sequester).

This is pure bait and switch.  I’m sorry they don’t like the deal they cooked up to get out of the debt-ceiling mess they created.  I’m not a big fan either.  But the trigger was structured as tough on defense to make it something they’d want to avoid.  And let’s remember: the $900 billion of cuts already on the books came exclusively from the non-defense part of the budget from important programs that are already strained—Head Start, child care, education, infrastructure, R&D, and more.

As far as the reconfigurers’ tag-line—“a threat to national security”—well, I don’t buy it and they should have thought of that before.  Defense spending is up to around $550 billion per year, and security, adding in Homeland Security et al, gets you up to close to $900 billion.  So $55 billion of cuts per year for nine years is a worthy goal, especially in a world where a flexible, efficient military is much more important than a huge one.

But I’m no expert and if I’m wrong—if defense cuts of that magnitude are too large—then they should be diminished dollar-for-dollar with the cuts on the non-defense side.  Yes, that means less than $1.2 trillion in deficit savings but so be it.  It’s an arbitrary target anyway, set because that was the increase in the debt ceiling, which itself is a useless construct.  The concentric circles of crazy here are truly daunting.

*And the defense secretary, Leon Panetta, whom the White House needs to bring back on the reservation–quickly.

Or, perhaps you’d like to have this all summarized by a Haiku:

To reconfigure

Is to jigger the trigger

Than that, we’re bigger


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3 comments in reply to "Reconfigure: To Jigger the Trigger"

  1. Michael says:

    That was pretty obviously the plan the whole time.

  2. Eric Titus says:

    There’s something I don’t understand about the whole trigger situation. For the democrats, the trigger is preferable to anything to the right of the trigger; for the republicans, it’s preferable to anything to the left of the trigger. So in order to come to any sort of agreement, they’d have to find a win-win situation with the trigger as a baseline. Why anyone thought this was going to happen is beyond me.

    And the progressive in me might welcome this, since after all the alternative would probably have involved simply reducing the percentage of military spending. Alternatively, they might have gone for offsetting symbolic gestures, such as raising taxes in return for cutting social security and EPA spending.

  3. Kenneth D. Franks says:

    When one party, the Republicans, would rather crash the economy than see a second Obama Administration we are likely to see little progress on important issues that affect all of us. Maybe the only solution, although it is going to be painful to many American citizens is that we simply let all the Bush tax cuts expire for everyone. Next, we have many tax loopholes and with the tax code so complicated, it should be simplified even if corporations or individuals don’t get their cherished tax exemptions or subsidies. Lastly corporations are not people and their political power should be curtailed in our political process.