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Sequestration, The Kabuki Dance

15 Feb 2013

Sequestration, The Kabuki Dance

SHORT-TERM SEQUESTER APPEARS LIKELY Politico reported that,With the “meat ax” about to fall, Congress is heading into its weeklong Presidents Day recess still at odds over the budget. Senate Democrats are now pushing a $110 billion package — that would raise new revenues and reduce planned defense spending by $27.5 billion — to forestall the sequester cuts due to take effect March 1. Majority Leader Harry Reid hopes to bring the bill to the floor the week of Feb 25th. Speaker Boehner told reporters that is senators “are willing to pass a bill, we’ll find some way to work with them to address this problem.” But House Republicans are flatly refusing to consider any new revenues – setting the stage for a showdown almost certain to drag on past March 1.” LIBERAL DEMS PUSH BACK ON REID’S SEQUESTER PLAN Alex Bolton writes in The Hill: “A large group of liberal Democrats are pushing back against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s plan to replace the sequester with an even balance of spending cuts and tax revenues. They want the package to raise substantially more through taxes and cut less in spending.”

TUESDAY WAS GROUNDHOGS DAY MorningD reported, “Military commanders have testified before about the perils of sequestration, but there were two big differences this time around. One, this is the first hearing on the issue since the services officially started doing detailed planning for the across-the-board cuts. So the witnesses were equipped with real-world examples about the effects of the cuts – furloughs and layoffs, grounded aircraft and ships stuck at port, deferred maintenance and delayed construction projects. Secondly, there was an added sense of urgency. Sequestration is just two weeks away. And Democrats and Republicans alike are now acknowledging there’s little hope of stopping the cuts before March 1. SEQUESTRATION…THE BIG QUESTION: Is there anything else the nation’s top military commanders can say to convince members of Congress to pass a defense budget and prevent the sequester cuts? Tuesday’s testimony was about as dire as it gets: “The scale and abrupt implementation of sequestration will have devastating impacts on readiness,” Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos told SASC. “Sequestration will leave ships in ports, aircraft grounded for want of necessary maintenance and flying hours, units only partially trained and reset after 12 years of continuous combat, and modernization programs canceled.” SEQUESTER WILL HURT BORDER PATROL Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told the Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday that the department would be forced to reduce its border patrol workforce hours by the equivalent of 5,000 agents beginning in April, Politico reports, signaling a near 25% reduction of the overall workforce. IS THE PENTAGON AT FAULT FOR THE SEQUESTER STANDOFF? MorningD writes, “The military’s last-ditch push to stop sequestration is being met with increasing resistance on Capitol Hill, with even some of the Pentagon’s strongest supporters criticizing the latest public-relations campaign as too little, too late. And fingers are being pointed at DoD. …The two basic GOP gripes: DoD is cutting readiness while leaving wasteful programs untouched (CA-R Rep. Randy Forbes, etc.), and it waited too long to start announcing detailed plans for carrying out sequestration (VA-R Rep. Randy Forbes, etc.).”

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