A recent editorial is correct that some sequester spending cuts could be avoided, but the blame for across-the-board reductions goes beyond congressional dysfunction (“Our View: Acadia delay shows cost of failure to cooperate,” March 21).
The House offered legislation that would have let the administration allocate reductions within agencies to minimize their effects on the public. But the president, who would much rather raise taxes than cut spending, rejected this approach and is indeed determined to make the sequester process as visible and annoying as possible.
Even after $1.2 trillion of discretionary reductions and $620 billion of higher taxes on the wealthy, deficits over the next 10 years will still total about $7 trillion. The Congressional Budget Office expects annual deficits to decline for several years, but to be back to $1 trillion and rising by 2023.
It will be impossible to materially alter the country’s long-term trajectory of deficits and growing debt without reform of the major entitlement programs that increasingly dominate the federal budget or without huge tax increases that include the middle class. The sequester adjustments are being made unnecessarily difficult, but some adjustment is necessary after the explosion in spending in recent years.
Most importantly, unless we get serious about entitlement reform, inconvenient cuts in discretionary spending and more taxes on the wealthy will do no more than slow the country’s drift toward the next fiscal crisis.