Player of the Week: Sequestration

The so-called sequestration, which would slash about $500 billion in defense spending, has its share of critics in both parties. Defense contractors also cry foul, unsure of how they should proceed with possible layoffs in early 2013.

Republicans in the House are scheduled to pass legislation this week that would replace the cuts in the sequester. That bill will die in the upper chamber, where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) and other Democrats have ripped the GOP for refusing to budge and raise taxes.

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Until they do, Reid has said, the sequester will remain in place.

2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has attempted to portray the sequester as President Obama’s defense cuts. Democrats counter that influential members of both parties agreed to the sequester when they created the supercommittee, including Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Romney’s running mate.

The supercommittee flopped, and unless Congress acts before the new year, defense and social programs will be cut significantly.

Many liberal Democrats say the focus on defense has been skewed.

Earlier this summer, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) said, “Some members of Congress warn that defense contracting firms will lay off employees if sequestration goes into effect ... They say nothing of the tens of thousands of teachers, police officers and other public servants in communities all across America who would also lose their jobs.”

The Office of Management and Budget later this week will detail how it would implement sequestration in a highly anticipated report, which was mandated by the Sequestration Transparency Act. That bipartisan bill was passed by Congress last month.

Some political analysts believe that sequestration will be postponed as part of an agreement to deal with the pending “fiscal cliff.” But such an accord, if it happens, won’t occur until after the elections.