WASHINGTON POST Column: …The consequences would be widespread. The Pentagon would have to cut spending 8.8 percent, estimates Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a think tank specializing in defense issues. Among civilian workers, there would almost certainly be furloughs. Procurement contracts would have to be rewritten to reduce purchases; interestingly, the unit costs of weapons and other supplies would probably rise, as fixed costs were spread over shorter production runs. Training would be cut, leaving the services less prepared for combat.
Dozens of non-defense programs would suffer cuts averaging about 5 percent, according to Richard Kogan of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a liberal think tank. These would include: the FBI, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Park Service, the Department of Homeland Security — and many more. Here, too, there would probably be furloughs; some projects would be delayed or canceled; grants to states and localities would be trimmed.
With hindsight, the sequester’s failure to compel consensus seems understandable. For Republicans, the sequester guarantees spending reductions — even if many abhor the defense cuts — and avoids tax increases. Democrats may dislike the domestic cuts, but they also know that the biggest social programs are off the table — Social Security, Medicaid and most of Medicare (Medicare is subject to a 2 percent cut, but all of that would come from lower payment rates to doctors, hospitals and other providers)… (more)