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Deficit Reduction, Sequestration, and Defense Spending

With not much else receiving attention from the mainstream media, we learned late this afternoon that the so-called “Super Committee fails to reach deficit agreement." As Billy House wrote in National Journal:

“The bipartisan congressional committee tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction announced on Monday it cannot reach agreement by the Wednesday deadline, a stark if not unexpected admission that its efforts have ended in failure.

"After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline," the co-chairs, Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said.”

At American Spectator, Jed Babbin wrote earlier today:

“The supercommittee's failure was supposed to cause panic in the streets. The Defense Department -- in the words of each of the Joint Chiefs and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta -- can't stand the effects of sequestration. On the other side, we've heard from the OWS crowd -- the voice of the White House -- that any cuts in entitlements or other domestic spending just can't be done.

"But the failure to reach a deal hasn't had a noticeable effect on the markets. The news media are talking about it in mild terms. They know the unspeakable secret: that whatever the result, success or failure, cuts or sequestration, the supercommittee results won't take effect until 2013.

“That's right: the whole thing was set up to give the appearance of spending cuts without the reality. And to give Congress another whole year to mess around with the results. It was a put-up job aimed to increase the debt ceiling without forcing Congress to actually do anything that cuts federal spending.

“In short, it was a scam.”

So the “sequester trigger” will be pulled come 2013. And as Veronique de Rugy of George Mason University’s Mercatus Center wrote today:

"The automatic sequester cuts do very little to the overall trend in the growth of debt. In the next ten years, CBO projects that under current law, public debt will reach nearly $14.54 trillion by 2021. In contrast, debt with sequestration shows a rather minute difference of $153 billion, in the $14.38 trillion debt estimate by 2021.”

If easier, check out the following chart that Ms. de Rugy included in a paper earlier this month for the Mercatus Center. It was used in a column by the Washington Post’s George Will “to examine spending increases with and without the budget sequester.” She also prepared an alternative version of the graph, but in chart form here.

In all of the talk about the Super Committee, few pundits talk in-depth of whether Defense spending is adequate. Thanks to Rob Bluey at the Heritage Foundation’s blog, The Foundry, we get to see a picture of defense spending over the past 45 years. As the chart below shows, defense spending is projected to fall significantly below it’s 45-year historical average of 5.2% by 2015. While it doesn't address the question of whether the defense budget, it does provide context.


HT Drudge Report for the National Journal article.
BTW, blogging over the next 7-8 days will be lighter than usual; your humble scribe will be visiting relatives.

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