The New Year dispute over sequestration and the possibility of actually cutting military spending ended with an agreement to punt the issue down the road until March 1, a date which is rapidly approaching. President Obama is demanding that Congress delay the issue again, insisting it is vital to delay it for “a few months.”
Much of the “sequestration” cuts that were delayed were military spending cuts, which officials have been railing about ever since, insisting such cuts could never be allowed. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta even claimed the cuts, though minor, would turn the US into a “second-rate power,” though still one with ten times the military budget of Russia.
The delay was nominally meant to provide more time to negotiate a deal, though President Obama made no specific proposal for such a deal and instead called for tax increases and spending cuts on something other than the military.
The issue splits broadly along partisan lines, with Democrats insisting no military spending cuts could ever be allowed and tax hikes are the only way, and Republicans insisting no military spending cuts could ever be allowed and that cutting other spending is the only way. Either way, despite Panetta et al. continuing to predict doom the bulk of Congress and the administration both seem to be pretty sure that the enormous military budget needs to be protected whatever the cost, and that if it isn’t it will be someone else’s fault.