Think Tanks Duel Over Easing Sequestration

Brandon Bourdages/Shutterstock.com

Congress could go a long way toward softening sequestration by simply amending the 2011 Budget Control Act to count the already-in-place debt reduction from last January’s “fiscal cliff” deal, according to a liberal think tank.

In a paper released Tuesday, Harry Stein, the Center for American Progress’ associate director for fiscal policy, said, “When the fiscal cliff savings are included in the sequester calculation, the annual amount of sequester cuts falls from $109 billion to $42 billion. That reduces the defense and nondefense cuts from $55 billion to $21 billion. ”

Stein continued: “Reducing the defense sequester gives the Pentagon flexibility to draw down national security spending in a responsible and strategic manner. But the benefits of applying the fiscal cliff deficit reduction to the sequester are even greater on the nondefense side.”

CAP considers sequestration a threat to vital investments it says are needed in infrastructure, research and education, and called the across-the-board cuts that few in Washington originally wanted an obsolete solution to budget problems. “Congress passed the sequester in the face of deeply concerning national debt projections, but those projections look much better now,” it said in a statement. “One major reason for that improvement is the fiscal cliff deal,” savings from which amount to $737 billion over 10 years to reduce the sequester. That “is exactly in line with Congress’ initial intent to replace the sequester with smarter debt reduction,” CAP argued. 

Many conservatives, however, have come to value sequestration as the only available tool for curbing government spending. Romina Boccia, a budget analyst at the Heritage Foundation, wrote this month that the discussions of undoing sequestration taking place in the current House-Senate budget negotiations show “the extent to which policymakers are willing to drag their feet on even moderate spending reductions.”

Though the sequester is a “blunt instrument” that symbolizes Washington’s “dysfunction,” Boccia wrote, “Even with sequestration, nominal federal spending is projected to grow by 69 percent in 10 years. Lawmakers should deliberately budget within sequestration spending levels and do much more to slow the explosion in spending and debt.”

Both think tanks argue that their approach will grow the economy.

(Image via Brandon Bourdages/Shutterstock.com)

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.