Sequestration: Going Nowhere Fast

Otto Kreischer at AOL Defense wrote an interesting rundown of a sparsely attended Aerospace Industrial Association (AIA) briefing at the Press Club. Rather than just overtly defense-related company CEOs speaking on the negatives of sequestration, this press conference sported research university and health sector officials in an effort to show the broad-based evils of slashing the budget. The author’s verdict: With few Congressional aides and almost no major reporters in attendance and a changed political climate, it seems that “the fat lady is about to sing in the anti-sequester opera.”

Even a few months ago, we wouldn’t have believed that this would actually happen. Cuts of projected increases, sure. But given the military’s extremely vocal and virulent dislike of the Budget Control Act’s methods, the legislation as written being acted upon is pretty stunning. Now that the prospect appears more likely, bromides like “partisan dysfunction” and “broken Washington” give way to more targeted accusations.

The AIA press conference speakers said that entitlement spending must be addressed, while discretionary spending doesn’t drive the deficit and should be better protected. This perspective generally sides with the Republican position, but that doesn’t address the fact that conservatives rank sequestration as a lower priority than preventing tax increases. Republicans are simply blaming the president, and invented a new word to do it (“Obamaquester“). Influential conservative commentators have come around to the notion that the sequester is the only way to get spending cuts without revenue increases. Meanwhile, President Obama is blaming the Republican intransigence on taxes.

Less than three weeks from Washington’s latest self-imposed deadline of March 1, no one wants to budge. Looks like the cliff is finally here, but never count out a short-term deal that only makes us do this again in six months.