Kaptur: Sequestration unfair to militaryWritten by Guest Author | | GuestAuthor@toledofreepress.com
Since 2005 it has been my great privilege to serve on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense, which is responsible for funding our Armed Forces.
In today’s world, our military must be both muscular and flexible. As Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said recently, “Even as the military emerges and recovers from more than a decade of sustained conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, it confronts an array of complex threats,” including violent extremism, proliferation of dangerous weapons and regional conflicts.
Our military faces increasingly complex challenges, but Congress responds with an increasingly inadequate funding policy. The sequestration law — a budgetary “doomsday machine” that I opposed — has made meeting those responsibilities exceedingly difficult and perhaps impossible.
Just as job growth is picking up and the deficit is , the counterproductive strategy of sequestration has locked down uniformly across all federal departments with no thought to the harm to our employment situation and overall economy.
Austan Goolsbee, an economics professor at the University of Chicago, stated: “Sequestration will have a noticeable hit on the growth rate of between 0.5 and 0.9 percentage points. That won’t put us in a recession but it will definitely slow improvements to unemployment and the job market.”
In terms of national security, sequestration poses a clear and present danger to our military readiness. We have already seen 80,000 destructive furloughs take effect at such vital installations such as Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside Dayton.
More furloughs are forthcoming.
Moreover, this year’s $37 billion defense cut will be dwarfed by cuts looming in the coming years.
Sequestration means equipment and facilities are not being properly maintained. It means severe cutbacks in training. Army training rotations will be canceled as the service branches ponder the elimination of training altogether. As one general put it, we are consuming our readiness.
Sequestration means a painful $2.6 billion reduction to the TRICARE program that provides medical care for our troops and their families.
Our nation’s defense industrial base is also affected by sequestration’s indiscriminate cuts, which are devastating to manufacturing regions such as northern Ohio. companies that provide material for our military are finding it difficult, if not impossible, to make effective business plans amid so much unpredictability and uncertainty. For some companies, it could mean the difference between surviving and failing.
At a time of great technological achievement, sequestration is the legislative equivalent of a dumb bomb, destroying everything around it. All in all, sequestration means we force our troops and commanders to do more with less and without guidelines to do it. This cynical political device is unfair to our military and unwise for our nation.
In a dangerous world, we must develop a defense budget that meets the needs of our troops, improves our national security and provides sustainability for our defense industrial base. Surely that is not too much to ask of our congressional leaders.
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) is the U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 9th Congressional District. For more information, visit her website at kaptur.house.gov.
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