In the lead-up to releasing his Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget next week, President Obama has already previewed one policy that we hope will become law. In his budget, the president plans to call for a full repeal of the sequestration-level budget caps that apply to annually appropriated (discretionary) defense and non-defense spending. The Murray-Ryan deal relieved some of the pressures of sequestration for FY 2014 and FY 2015, but the cuts will roar back in October 2015 unless Congress and the president can come to an agreement.
Sequestration, which cuts approximately equally from discretionary defense and non-defense spending (although some of the domestic reductions are to mandatory programs), was a bad idea when it was first implemented and still is. As we argued in our 2013 report, From Merely Stupid to Dangerous, cutting defense and non-defense discretionary spending will diminish our future economic capacity and degrade the readiness of our fighting forces.
And as we’ve repeatedly detailed, sequestration does not improve our long-term fiscal outlook. The real pressure on the federal budget is a mismatch between our inefficient tax code and our national entitlements, especially those that will grow in expense as the baby boomers retire.
President Obama is to be applauded for insisting that something should be done to relieve the pressure of sequestration, and he may find some allies across the aisle. Just recently, House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX) stated that the sequester increases national insecurity and should be rescinded. We hope that this position will find more agreement on both sides of the aisle and that policymakers can figure out a way to make this plan become reality.
Alex Gold served as a policy analyst for BPC’s Economic Policy Project.