Fiscal Deal Leaves Sequestration on Table

NGAUS Washington Report

(Jan. 2, 2012) The deal reached by Congress Tuesday to avoid the so-called fiscal cliff delays for two months a decision on sequestration and could make its impact on the military worse than originally planned if it goes into effect.

Army Times points out that a delay until March 1 to address a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction plan would give the Pentagon only six months to make the cuts before the start of a new fiscal year if a deal preventing sequestration can’t be reached.

The publication, which reports the military would probably have to cut $57 billion to $63 billion from the 2013 budget, used a possible furlough of 800,000 civilian workers as an example. Shortening the time period to implement the furloughs would prove more disruptive.

The same would be true of planned maintenance and repairs, forcing tough decisions on where to make the fixes.

The deal passed early Tuesday by the Senate and late Tuesday by the House has been sent to the White House for the president’s signature. It makes permanent some tax rates for most Americans to prevent their tax bills from increasing, but ends a reduction in the payroll taxes for Social Security, which jumped to 6.2 percent with the dawning of the new year.

It does extend for one year reimbursement rates for physicians who treat TRICARE and Medicare patients, putting off again a cut of 27 percent in those fees.

The deal does nothing to address the continuing resolution under which the federal government is operating until March 27.

So, much work remains for lawmakers as another fiscal cliff approaches.

Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, is disappointed that sequestration was not addressed in the negotiated deal.

He was quoted as saying, “Rather than shield a wartime military from further reductions, this deal leaves the force vulnerable to sequestration’s devastating and arbitrary cuts and it leaves Congress and the president with much work to do to end the crisis. Every day of uncertainty over further reductions limits our ability to fight the war in Afghanistan, keep Americans free from harm at home, and prevent potential conflict abroad.”

He urges Congress and President Barack Obama to “resolve the deep threat of sequestration immediately.”