Tuesday, September 18, 2012

THSC: Office of Mangement and Budget Offers Insight into the Sequestration

Friday, the White House released a report describing budget cuts under a possible sequestration. The report seems to be troubling, considering how specific the cuts are, and will likely leave many on Capitol Hill scratching their heads.

The Office of Management and Budget reports, that under a law signed by President Obama in August which came with partition support and blamed Republicans for bipartisan Budget Control Act which formed the sequester last year, have since called Republican plans to replace it with entitlement cuts, “irresponsible.”

“Members of Congress should work together to produce a balanced plan that achieves at least the level of deficit reduction agreed to in the BCA that the President can sign to avoid sequestration. The Administration stands ready to work with Congress to get the job done,” the introduction reads, adding later that a balanced compromise solution would make the top two percent of earners in the U.S. pay “their fair share.”

The long 394-page report outlines specific line-item cuts. However, the introduction of the report clearly state that the numbers are purely preliminary, and are not final. In turn, this makes is more difficult for law-makers to use this report in future legislative purposes.

“If the sequestration were to occur, the actual results would differ based on changes in law and ongoing legal, budgetary, and technical analysis,” the document states.

The new report addresses all of the cuts that will be made in Fiscal Year 2013 alone. All of the cuts add up to a whopping $110 billion in both non-defense spending and defense spending. In the report most non-military programs are estimated to take an 8.2 percent budget cut, while military budgets will face deeper cuts – an estimated 9.4 percent cut.

And of course, many federal departments will not be facing any cuts. Most mandatory spending, Veteran Affair operations would not face cuts, with Medicare facing a mere 2 percent budget cut with the sequester. The salaries and benefits of all members of Congress are not projected to be cut; however, many of the Congressional Staff may be facing a pay cut according to the report.

Defense Health Programs are projected to face a $3.27 billion cut, along with Department of Defense Operations and Maintenance being assessed a $3.8 billion cut, and the Navy’s shipbuilding budget will be reduced by $1.4 billion according to the report.

A statement released Friday afternoon by Buck KcKeon, the House Armed Services Committee Chairman, criticized the White House and Obama Administration for paying for ‘lip services’ to Congress’s request on the details on how the possible sequester would affect the DoD, and DoD spending.

“The report does reveal a shocking lack of planning on the part of a White House that brought sequester to the table in the first place,” KcKeon said. “With just over 3 months until a second half-trillion dollars in cuts are imposed no proposal from the President to avert them, and no predictability on how OMB will apply the cuts – the Commander in Chief appears to be willing to leave the military without either resources or strategy.”

Following the attacks across the Middle-East on American embassies last week, one might be worried that the report notes that embassy security would be cut by $136 million. NASA also stands to lose $1.4 billion with the sequester.

However, the report outlines more than just defense cuts. Many federal education programs stand to be cut; $1.3 billion from special education and $256 million from federal student aid.

Overall, sequestration is reported to cut more than $1 trillion from federal spending over the next ten years, unless a replacement plan is agreed upon. Last Thursday night, the House of Representatives passed an alternative to sequestration, but will likely be vetoed by President Obama if it even reaches the White House.

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