"You would phase it in. Do as little [as you can] or even none in the first years, and then have it phase in slowly over the period as the economy strengthens," says Joel Friedman, vice president for federal fiscal policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank in Washington, D.C. As it stands right now, sequestration could take 750,000 jobs from the economy in 2013 alone, according to CBO Director Doug Elmendorf.
It's not just the size or pace of sequestration that makes it economically threatening but the across-the-board quality of the cuts. But the likelihood of those cuts taking effect seems to grow with every day. With that in mind, says Makin, sequestration should be done in as thoughtful a way as possible.
"Let's say the sequestration goes through. Congress could and should pass legislation that says, 'Look. Department XYZ—including Defense—you have to cut the same amount out of your budget, but you can adjust how to do it,'" says Makin. "The given is the cuts are there. If somebody cuts your budget you think harder about how you spend it."