Today’s HASC hearing on sequester became the predictable political theater its organizers intended: a partisan food fight over what would happen and who was responsible. There is no news here; even the Pentagon’s details are illustrative at best.
Every move in this over-acted drama is scripted with the election in mind. But nobody is making policy here. For all the whining the big defense companies have done, they can easily survive cuts of the type Deputy Secretary Carter described.
In the absence of an appropriated budget usable as a planning target, there is no specificity to what would actually happen, making the WARN Act requirement about specific “plant closings” and “mass layoffs” inapplicable. Any notices sent out before the election would be a pure political act, not one driven by business judgment.
Let there be no mistake: sequester is not good planning or good budgeting. It is survivable, however, if the policy-makers are so determined to avoid agreement that they let it happen. The largest damage would not be to the defense industry. And it would certainly not diminish our national security: US global military supremacy would be unchanged.
The most significant impact would likely be on the US civil service, unprotected by waiver and instantly vulnerable to the reduction in payroll resources. Perhaps that is what the advocates of smaller government would prefer, leaving the American public to decide whether it likes the reduction in services that could result.