It is happening. The impact on the economy by “soft sequestration” is here. How this could be characterized by anyone as a surprise or unexpected is a little bit beyond belief. The term “soft sequestration” is often used by my fellow AEI defense policy focused colleagues, other Beltway defense gurus, politicians, and those from the defense industry to describe what they have been predicting for months and which was finally validated by Uncle Sam this morning when the Commerce Department announced its 2012 fourth quarter numbers on the health of the US economy:
Real gross domestic product … decreased at an annual rate of 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2012 … Real federal government consumption expenditures and gross investment decreased 15.0 percent in the fourth quarter … National defense decreased 22.2 percent.
This morning’s report is only tangential to the real specter of what is to come: The severely degraded readiness and capability of the US military in an increasingly dangerous world.
Policymakers must thoughtfully consider the real impact of the tremendous cuts DOD has already made under the current administration, what it means to our national security and our role in the world. It must also be contrasted with the prioritization of considerable “stimulus” spending seen in other parts of government over the same period. While defense spending is inextricably linked to — and often a force multiplier of — the economy, as recently noted in a paper by AEI’s Mackenzie Eaglen, the intrinsic value of maintaining our liberties is quite different than paving a “shovel ready” road project.
The very real possibility of sequestration occurring (Sen. Carl Levin, D-MI, gives it 50-50 odds of being implemented) is deadly serious. Our adversaries are taking notes and the nation is dangerously close to slipping off the edge of an abyss that can only be avoided by a show of political courage. Let’s hope to see that courage by March 1, because right now it’s not looking very promising for America’s finest.