This morning on CNN’s State of the Union, Representative Mike Rogers (R., Mich.) explained one way he’d like to see the sequester averted: Maintain the same level of cuts, but give the affected agencies and departments flexibility to allocate the cuts. He explained that Congress should, in the ten days remaining before the sequester hits, “give agencies the ability to manage these reductions.” He explained that he didn’t think the sequester’s cuts were going to be avoided, or, say, reallocated to balance domestic and defense cuts, saying “I believe we’re going to go into it.”
Rogers, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, explained that the current sequestration specifies cuts not just for specific agencies and departments but also for individual programs within those departments (the reductions amount to 9.4 percent for some defense programs and 10 percent for others, and 7.6 percent for some domestic discretionary programs and 8.2 percent for the others).
He explained that, for instance, the sequester may make it impossible to maintain two carrier battle groups in the Middle Eastern region, or would result in the loss of “thousands” of intelligence agents. If the Pentagon and domestic agencies are given the ability to manage the cuts, they could, for instance, cut some programs completely, rather than reduce them, in order to preserve present levels of spending in others. Domestic nondiscretionary spending — entitlements — however, barely comes in for cuts under sequester, and Rogers didn’t specifically suggest that that should change (which would allow much more substantial rebalancing of the cuts).
His Democratic counterpart on the panel, Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island, appeared to disagree with the strategy, explaining that “these are still significant reductions,” and suggested that as a matter of “arithmetic” the Democratic proposal, which would raise taxes in order to replace some of the spending cuts, was superior.