If we suspend for a moment the fact that the sequester likely will never happen, the extensive coverage generated by what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta called a “doomsday mechanism” and its negative consequences seems to imply disproportionate discrimination against the DOD budget. To be fair, the sequester would impose an unnecessarily steep cut to the defense budget.
In reality, almost all discretionary spending would be affected by sequestration, including the 150 account. The Budget Control Act divides the budget into security and non-security. The State Department and International Affairs are considered part of national security. Under sequestration, however, the split becomes defense and non-defense spending, not security and non-security—with State and International Affairs considered non-defense. For defense, the sequester comes out to a cut of about 10% from discretionary budget authority. The non-defense category includes more mandatory spending, which means that the cut will be closer to 8%. For International Affairs, that means about $5 billion less than the FY11 funding level, which as it turns out may be close to where FY12 will end up anyway.
Yes, the sequester would hit defense. But it would technically hit all the other accounts too, including State and International Affairs, although we’re probably already headed toward those levels.