The fiscal cliff looms. Part of that cliff is “sequestration“: the political agreement, enacted into law, to automatically cut federal spending across the board by $1.2 trillion over ten years, starting with $109 billion next year. Half the cuts would be in defense, half in domestic spending. These mindless cuts, which nearly all of Congress acknowledges as damaging, would go into effect on January 2nd if Congress fails to reach agreement on an alternative.
Shockingly, Congressional Republicans want an even worse outcome—increases in defense spending along with more than double the sequestration cuts in domestic spending to make up the difference. They are particularly gunning for elimination of clean air, clean water, and most other programs run by the EPA. Congressional Democrats want a more balanced approach with at least some of the deficit reduction coming from tax increases on the wealthy, and fewer domestic cuts. Yet the Democrats have failed to unite behind any significant cuts in military spending.
Few realize that, even beyond spending for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, base defense spending rose over 77% in the last decade .* Obama‘s much maligned “defense cuts” amount to less than 1% in base military spending from 2012 to 2013. Looking forward, our military spending needs to be rolled back much more, not less, than sequestration would require. And we need to protect the EPA and reinvigorate federal programs that help to stave off global warming and environmental disaster.