09.10.2013 1

House Republicans plot to roll back sequester to pass Syria war resolution?

Sequester 600By Robert Romano

House Republicans may be attempting to attach language to the Syria war resolution that would overturn sequestration cuts made to defense, reports Bill Gertz in the Washington Free Beacon.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon said in an interview that the authorization to use military force in Syria represented “the best chance” to roll back the cuts.

“I have the most leverage right now than I’m ever going to have,” McKeon said.

Here, McKeon is tying support to take America to war in Syria to achieving certain budgetary prerogatives, in this case increasing defense spending.

If only House Republicans were as dedicated to rolling back Obamacare as they were sequestration, they might have some extra money to spend on defense. But let’s leave that aside.

Defense spending peaked in 2011 at $699 billion. It dropped to $670.3 billion in 2012 in cuts unrelated to sequestration. And as sequester takes effect, it will drop again to $639 billion for Fiscal Year 2013, and again to $593 billion in 2014 before it again begins to rise.

That’s a total of $77 billion of real cuts to defense as a result of sequestration, after which spending increases. In fact, it will rise every year through 2023, when CBO projects its budget will total $714 billion.

This is the plan that was put into place by Congress and the President as a resolution to the 2011 debt ceiling standoff.

Then, McKeon had the opportunity to make his objections known — by voting against sequestration under the Budget Control Act.

Instead, he voted for the sequester cuts, not once, but twice.

To now go back is a breach of trust to the America people, who were promised spending cuts to offset the $2.1 trillion increase in the debt ceiling, the largest such hike in U.S. history.

Moreover, the idea that a war resolution and all of its implications, to find the votes, was loaded with pork of any kind as a sweetener in a measure that might not have otherwise passed on its own merits is troubling.

The reason we’ll have gone to war was simply to increase defense spending. That’s an abhorrent thought.

To be fair, McKeon probably wants to achieve both outcomes, war in Syria and rolling back sequester. Tying the two together is a political move designed to succeed on both counts. But that does not make it any less cynical.

Whether or not to take America to war is Congress’ constitutional responsibility, not something to be taken lightly. It should be done on its own merits. And certainly not a vehicle to advance a political agenda.

Robert Romano is the senior editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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