Obama administration officials say there’s no point crafting detailed sequestration plans, given it’s a crisis created by Congress that might never happen.
But Pentagon Comptroller Bob Hale last week finally hinted at some implications, saying civilian workers might be furloughed to cover Afghanistan operations. He also said the Defense Department would look to protect its top programs and avoid costly terminations.
Even though DoD is not yet making detailed plans, Hale stressed the Pentagon will be ready if sequestration goes into effect. Ready or not, a 10 percent chop off DoD’s annual budget — a sequestration requirement — is a big hit, all the more following cuts over the past two years.
Unfortunately, wisdom will not prevail in a timely fashion: This is an election year. Republicans want details to criticize Obama for cutting defense; the president won’t play along, blaming Congress for creating this mess in the first place. That leaves a looming threat to the defense section frozen by uncertainty and workers fearing for their jobs.
No matter how you slice it, sequestration will only make a bad situation worse, and Congress has a responsibility to avoid it. Yet it has demonstrated a tendency toward nonpartisan irresponsibility. DoD leaders absolutely must do more to prepare for a worst-case scenario.