5 Reasons Not to Worry About the Dreaded Sequester
More From Fiscal Times: Sequester Could Wipe Out More Than a Million Jobs
Congress Could Give Pentagon Some Flexibility — If lawmakers really dread the hollowing out of our armed forces, they could grant the military more leeway in transferring cash among its operations and maintenance accounts, according to a recent analysis by Amy Belaso, a specialist in defense policy and budgets for the Congressional Research Service.
The Pentagon could limit "cuts to readiness-related O&M operating forces to 10 percent to 12 percent, about half the level that the Joint Chiefs of Staff warned would be dangerous in their January letter to Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
March 1 Isn't Set in Stone — The sequester roars in like a lion on March 1, yet it could easily be modified as part of an agreement on funding the government—the continuing resolution expires at the end of next month—or with a deal to raise the debt limit before May 18.
"If this kicks in and remains in force for an appreciable amount of time, I can imagine this discussion getting rolled into the broader discussion of the continuing resolution and the budget for the rest of the year," said Bill Galston, a senior fellow on government policy at the Brookings Institution. One option on the sequester would be keeping the spending reductions, yet giving agencies more discretion in how to make them.
However, forging any kind of agreement on the budget or the debt ceiling might be tough. Democrats demand that any deal—with an eye toward deficit reduction—include higher tax revenues. House Republicans say the debate has ended on tax increases.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., recently told The Fiscal Times he anticipates "trench warfare" for the rest of the year on the budget.