Learning to Love the Sequester

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A new report suggests maybe all the uproar on Capitol Hill about the sequester was nothing but hype.

Months have passed since those across-the-board spending cuts hit the federal government, and instead of all the layoffs expected, the Washington D.C. area has actually added 40,000 jobs, and suffered very few losses.

Washington's unemployment rate remains 5.3 percent, much lower than the national average.

Meanwhile, there are those who are actually applauding the sequester and its across-the-board cuts.

"We love the sequester," said Tom Giovanetti, the head of the Texas-based Institute for Policy Innovation.  He says any move Washington makes to actually slow down its wild spending is a good move.

Giovanetti pointed out in 2011 both the White House and Congress came up with and approved this scheme to have automatic across-the-board spending cuts kick in if they couldn't negotiate some other kind of cuts-deal.

"We think that was a great idea and it's a great device," Giovanetti stated.  "We think we ought to be planning Sequester 2 and Sequester 3 right now because nothing else has worked."

Some in Washington say these are quite deep and painful cuts in spending.  But Giovanetti said, not really.

"Most American families, when they talk about a cut, they mean 'spending less money this year than we did last year," the IPI president explained. "That's not what the government thinks of as a cut."

Most of the budgets for federal departments are rigged to automatically rise several percentage points every year.

"If the government is planning to spend five percent more next year, and now they're only going to spend three percent more, they consider that to be a drastic cut," Giovanetti stated.  "And that is the nature of the sequester: in almost every federal department, spending goes up, not down."

The only real cuts hit the Defense Department.  That's made many hawks howl, but Giovanetti has told his fellow conservatives to settle down.

"For conservatives and for free-market folks and people who believe in limited government, we shouldn't believe any department is sacred," Giovanetti preached.  "We shouldn't believe that any department should have an unlimited tap on the taxpayer dollars. Defense should be no different." 

And even then, the Pentagon is only cut back to 2007 spending levels, the year when America's military was engaged in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

"If that amount of money is enough to fight two wars at the same time, it's probably not a drastic cut," said Giovanetti.  "And don't forget, defense spending immediately starts going up again next year."

Which is why folks like Giovanetti want to see more sequesters, but with real cuts -- and real limits on spending.

"If you don't have a limit, you don't budget," Giovanetti insisted.  "If you don't have a limit, you don't make choices.  You do everything."

And that's something believers in limited government just can't abide.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.