By Adam Bitely — Republicans in Congress have a real chance to show that they are serious about cutting spending with the upcoming sequestration cuts. If they hold firm on this, this will be the first example that they are willing to actually make cuts instead of negotiate deals with Democrats that only increase the spending and the debt.
There are some on the right who are scheming for a way to coalesce Republicans around a way to get out of the first real cuts that Congress will implement in some time. Defense hawks fear that even minimal cuts to future increases in the defense budget will seriously hurt America’s military might. But this is simply not so.
According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Uncle Sam’s annual military budget today is more than seven times (!) larger than that of the nation (China) with the globe’s second-largest military budget. And if China and all other nations, apart from the U.S., ranked today in the top ten according to absolute size of military budgets were to merge into one gigantic country, America’s current military budget would still be much larger than that of our new mega-rival – larger than the combined budgets of these other nine countries by 52 percent (or $252 billion)! Put differently, if sequestration does kick in to cut, as projected, $50 billion annually from the Pentagon’s budget, five years of such cuts would be necessary to shrink the U.S. military budget to the size at which it would equal the sum of the world’s next nine largest military budgets.
Lost in the debate over sequestration is the fact that Democrats and Republicans agreed to these cuts when they last increased the debt ceiling. Part of the agreement included the creation of a Supercommittee that would cut spending but should it fail, automatic spending cuts (known as the sequester) would automatically kick in. Republicans and Democrats knew this was part of the deal and agreed to it.
Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson asked in November the following question, “If Congressional leadership and the Obama Administration cannot keep even the modest spending cuts proposed from sequestration — which would reduce the overall budget by just 1.7 percent — how do they ever intend to balance the budget?”
Republicans must ask themselves how voters, who constantly hear their campaign promises to cut spending and tackle the out-of-control government debt, will react when they cannot even enforce the cuts that they voted for. Further, they must ask themselves if voters will ever trust them as a party that tells truth when they promise to voters that they will cut spending.
Republicans in Congress have a great opportunity to showcase to the nation that they can cut the budget. Even if the sequester is a modest step towards reducing the budget, it will serve as an example of standing on principle and not kowtowing to those who could care less about the size of the debt that the government has incurred.
Adam Bitely is the Editor-in-Chief of NetRightDaily.com. The graph used in this post is from Daniel J. Mitchell.