Commentary | Most would agree that the sequester that took effect on March first was an unfortunate complication for a variety of economic sectors. No one wants to see tens of thousands of students pulled from early education programs or thousands of special needs teachers and aides lose their jobs. Few will rejoice when airports get more crowded and less efficient as fewer air traffic controllers will lead to delayed flights. Those still suffering from unemployment will not welcome a steep decline in their benefits. Yes, on these effects of sequestration, the discontent is almost unanimous. But one question about the sequester that many can’t agree on is how it will affect the military and whether the cuts to the defense budget should be cause for concern or for celebration.
While Republicans have highly praised the impending cuts in certain areas, they have consistently warned that the sequester cuts to the national defense budget will be a serious impediment to our nation’s ability to maintain its national security. Democrats however (as well as some Libertarians and Tea-Party members-yes, they agree on this one), believe that these defense cuts are long overdue.
Our current defense budget is the largest in the world. In fact, it is larger than those of the next nine top spending militaries combined. Today, our defense budget is about twice what it was prior to the September 11th attacks and yet the number of active combatants actively targeting the United States has since then been roughly cut in half. Our troops are out of Iraq, the war in Afghanistan is winding down, and Al Qaeda’s strength has been significantly reduced.
Incredible amounts of taxpayer dollars are currently funding the maintenance of a nuclear arsenal that could destroy the world several times over (you know, in case the need to do that ever arises). Outdated weapons systems and unnecessary technologies are other examples of military waste.
Of course our national security is of the utmost importance but there is a point at which you can only describe what is being done within our military as overkill. The sequester cuts to the defense budget should be causing us to breathe a sigh of relief. It is unfortunate, however that this type of budget reduction only comes about after months of legislative gridlock and must accompany horrendous cuts to extremely beneficial programs in other areas of the economy.
Jay Gatz grew up in Massachusetts and has always had a passion for politics and all things international. He is also very interested in philosophy and some of his hobbies include tennis, guitar, and, perhaps somewhat obviously, writing.