By Robert Schlesinger |
In August 2011, with the country facing the specter of hitting the debt ceiling and defaulting, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011, outlining automatic cuts—or, sequestration—to mandatory and discretionary spending set to take place in 2013 and 2021. These cuts target both security and nonsecurity programs, and they call for the Pentagon to reduce spending by $487 billion over the next 10 years.
Sequestration was designed as a last resort, and the Budget Control Act was meant as an incentive for Congress to figure out a way to reduce the federal deficit through the efforts of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, better known as the “super committee.” This 12-person group was charged with issuing a recommendation to Congress for at least $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction to be undertaken over a 10 year period, but they failed to come to an agreement before their by November 23, 2011 deadline. With the super committee’s failure, the automatic defense cuts are still in place, and they are set to take effect starting on January 2, 2013.
Congress can vote to eliminate these cuts, and proponents of repealing them argue that America’s status as a global super power would be threatened if they are allowed to happen. Their opponents maintain that the American military is already vastly superior to any other force, and they say that the real threat to national security is an out-of-control budget.
Should Congress repeal the scheduled cuts to defense spending? Here’s the Debate Club’s take:
Mackenzie Eaglen Resident Fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at the American Enterprise Institute
Chris Van Hollen Member of the United States House of Representatives
Benjamin H. Friedman Research Fellow in Defense and Homeland Security Studies at the Cato Institute
Lawrence J. Korb Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress