By: Dr. Lynn Reaser
When the congressional “super committee” could not agree to budget cuts in 2011, “sequestration,” requiring equal cuts in defense and other discretionary spending, were set in place. They were painful and implemented for only one year before Congress voted for a two-year respite.
Sequestration will now return on October 1 this year unless the President and Congress act. The White House has called for continued relief with a plan to close tax “loopholes,” improve the efficiency of government programs, and achieve faster economic growth. While this might be appealing at first glance, a deeper probe indicates that the President’s proposed methods are both unrealistic and unwise.
Slowing the growth of the debt over the next decade will require curbing the rise of social security, Medicare, and other health care programs. The problem cannot be solved by slashing defense and other discretionary spending or by further raising the taxes on the wealthy. The President’s budget assumes that a slowing of health care costs and faster economic growth caused by immigration reform will solve much of the problem. Both are questionable assumptions. Tax hikes, meanwhile, will curb the economy’s growth potential.
The good news is that sequestration might not return on October 1. The bad news is that we are likely to just defer addressing the debt’s growth until another day.