By: Elton Gallegly
A year ago, the House passed the Budget Control Act of 2011. The act created a bipartisan Joint Deficit Committee to come up with a deficit reduction plan. Should the committee fail -- which it did -- a sequestration plan to cut the federal discretionary budget by $1.2 trillion beginning in January 2013 would take effect. At President Obama's insistence, half the cuts will come from the military.
The United States is now faced with a massive gash to our military, which Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta likened to "shooting ourselves in the head." Both Republicans and Democrats in the House and Senate have appealed to the president their willingness and desire to confer on sequestration, but he has ignored all entreaties.
Seeking to further push the president to act on the issue, the House and Senate passed a bill in late July that calls on the president to outline how he will implement the cuts. As of this writing, the president has failed to sign the bill into law.
It's important to note that it's not just the military that will be gashed, making it impossible for America to adequately defend itself from our enemies. The domestic economy will also take a massive hit. In addition to laying off military personnel at Naval Base Ventura County and Vandenberg Air Force Base, the 2,437 county civilian military contractors could lose more than $120 million in contracts and the 1,074 Santa Barbara County contractors could lose nearly $90 million.
In fact, California would take the biggest economic hit from the cuts.
Laid-off military men and women will then compete for civilian jobs that also will be shriveling. Nationally, the unemployment rate could rise above 9 percent in 2014 as 1.2 million military and civilian workers lose their jobs and the gross domestic product drops by 1 percent.
And that doesn't even count the support industries around our military bases that would suffer as base personnel and missions are cut.
At the same time that the cuts are further weakening our economy, it will weaken our ability to defend ourselves and our allies around the world, and to contain our enemies. Congress has already cut $487 billion from the Pentagon's budget to reflect better military efficiencies. Sequestration will cut another $492 billion, but this will cut into vital military personnel and programs.
According to a House Armed Services Committee study, it would mean separating 100,000 soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen from the military. It would also mean: The smallest ground force since 1940; a fleet of fewer than 230 ships, the smallest level since 1915; and the smallest tactical fighter force in the history of the Air Force.
It could also mean the reinstatement of the draft and a new round of base closures. With research and development funds severely cut, Naval Base Ventura County could be in grave danger.
The effects of sequestration will occur long before the cuts are enacted in January. Federal law requires companies with more than 100 employees to distribute layoff warnings to employees 60 days before a plant's closing or mass layoffs. That means workers will receive layoff notices just before the holiday season -- and just before Election Day. President Obama's July 31 Labor Department memo telling companies to ignore the law is election year politics at its worse.
Sequestration will send our economy deeper into a recession and decimate our military. In May, the House passed a bill that would postpone sequestration for a year so calm minds can solve the issue in a nonelection year. The House and Senate have demanded that the president outline his plan to enact sequestration. The only action by the president has been to tell companies to ignore the law.
It is incumbent upon the president and Congress to take sequestration off the table long before the election for the sake of our economy and our nation's security.
Further weakening our economy and decimating our military only give our enemies a greater chance of success.