By Paul WORLEY
Paul Worley is commissioner-elect of Adams County and an Army veteran who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When Ohio families sit down to tighten their budgets to make ends meet, they take a look at all the money they spend and start with cutting things they can live without, like eating out less or turning down the thermostat a few degrees.
That’s a common-sense approach to a household budget.
While this wisdom seems clear for everyday life, because of a process known as “sequestration,” Congress is poised to make across-the-board spending reductions for the entire federal government, slashing funding for everything from firefighters to aircraft carriers.
Worse, many of these cuts would reduce the Department of Defense’s ability to preserve America’s national security.
Sequestration can be avoided responsibly, and we have the leadership in Ohio to make it happen.
It’s time for elected officials to come up with a nonpartisan, balanced budget that keeps everything on the table without exempting the wasteful programs that have contributed to our debt.
It begs the question: How did we end up in this position?
Last August, Congress passed the Budget Control Act as a way to curb America’s skyrocketing debt. The act tasked a bipartisan group of senators representatives (called the “Super Committee”) to cut almost $1 trillion from the federal budget over the next 10 years.
If they didn’t, sequestration would kick in on Jan. 2. It was to be a tool of last resort, something meant to kick-start Congress out of gridlock.
Yet, gridlock is exactly what has happened.
While virtually every member of Congress has said they oppose sequestration, nothing has been done to fix it. If action isn’t taken, nearly every part of the federal budget will be automatically slashed by about 10 percent.
Sequestration will cut $1.2 trillion by 2021.The Office of Management and Budget described this process as “deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments and core government functions.”
Sequestration would reduce the Department of Defense’s budget by $500 billion. This would cripple U.S. ability to equip, train and transport the world’s strongest military. Modern-day threats will only gain traction if sequestration comes to pass.
As the sequestration’s deadline comes closer, it is important to recognize that DOD has come to the table. The U.S. must avoid taking what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta calls the “meat ax” approach – cutting without carefully weighing the options.
Today, the Pentagon budget is adversely impacted by spending commitments that date to the Cold War. For example, our government is slated to spend more than $600 billion on nuclear weapons stockpiled for a communist threat that ended long ago. This is spending that doesn’t address the 21st century threats that have shifted the needs of our military.
Similarly, Congress has been actively ignoring the Army’s efforts to streamline its cache of weapons systems. For instance, the Army requested not to receive any new M1 Abrams tanks, as it sees no use for them in modern-day warfare. Congress continues to fund these tanks more for political reasons – such as currying favor in key swing states where the tanks are manufactured – rather than strategic ones.
As home to the sixth-largest veteran population in the U.S. and the important Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio has an outsized role in guarding America’s national security.
With the influence of Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, Ohio should be leading the way toward a more responsible approach to the Pentagon’s defense spending.
Ohio’s leaders must ensure that our national security isn’t put at risk because of Congress’ inaction.
America must tackle its rising debt, but we must do it through a smart, balanced approach that will ensure both prosperity and protection.