While the government shutdown continues because of the Democrats’ and Republicans’ profound disagreement, the real issue facing the nation is something that both parties agree on, in principle: the need to reduce the size of the federal deficit.
The Budget Control Act of 2011 and sequestration have made some steps in this direction, though aiming indiscriminately at certain parts of government far more than others. Half of all cuts, for example, come from the Defense Department.
There are a wide range of options for domestic spending reduction. But military spending cuts are more narrow and difficult. They can be done responsibly, however. Sequestration’s reductions are severe, perhaps excessive (especially early on), with $500 billion in 10-year cuts, on top of the $500 billion already accepted back in 2011. That said, tens of billions can undoubtedly be saved through smart economies and business practices — without cutting muscle or breaking faith with the men and women in uniform.
The administration and Congress should pursue a two-pronged effort– revitalizing the Base Realignment and Closure (“BRAC”) process while convening a similar, but new, Overhead Realignment and Closure Commission (“ORAC”) to make the Defense Department a less wasteful organization.
We could begin with base closings. This process worked reasonably well for four rounds — as the Cold War ended and then into the 1990s.