November 10th is a day sacred in Marine Corps history. Ever since its founding in 1775 — it took some time for the bureaucratic “be it resolveds” to work their way into an actual “corps” — the myth has been that recruitment began in a Philadelphia tavern. Such a rum-soaked beginning suits the apocryphal legends all jarheads like to tell. I never met a one who wasn’t a good story-teller.
The current story for the Corps — and for the rest of the military — isn’t pleasant to contemplate. The news stories on the coming budget sequestration aren’t easy to find, though this one from September 15th (yes, after Benghazi) is understatedly ironic. Aptly titled Everything You Need to Know About Budget Sequestration Except the Consequences, this brief look begins to lay out some of the ugly details: [my emphasis below — D]:
You can now go line by line in the federal budget and see just how deep the spending cuts slated for January will go thanks to a White House report* released Friday on the impact of what’s known as “sequestration.”
What still isn’t there, however, is how the Selective Service (down 9.4 percent, or $2 million), managers for federal emergency food and shelter funding (down 8.2 percent, or $10 million) or operations and maintenance at the Marine Corps (down 9.4 percent, or $854 million) will actually cope with the reductions.
How many fewer tents will the Federal Emergency Management Agency buy? How will the Marine Corps maintain its combat readiness? That’s all still unclear.
“There will be some unintended consequences sooner or later,” says Pete Davis of Davis Capital Investment Ideas. “They’ve taken 8.2 percent out of embassy security which doesn’t seem like such a great idea right now…. What are you going to do if you’re building a ship and you’re going to take 9.4 percent out of it? It’s not like you can just buy 90 percent of a ship.”
Sequestration was the result of last summer’s debt ceiling deal, which cut $1 trillion in government spending over the next decade outright and then put responsibility for finding another $1.2 trillion on Congress.
Because Congress failed to agree on the mixture of lower spending and higher taxes to hit that figure, a mechanism in the debt ceiling-raising legislation causes automatic spending decreases to hit the $1.2 trillion figure: about $109 billion in lower government spending every year for the next decade.
The report itself comes about a week after the statutory deadline from the Sequestration Transparency Act, one of the last pieces of legislation Congress passed before adjourning for its August break. That legislation ordered the administration to create a report detailing the outlines of the sequester.
The rest of the story can be found at The Christian Science Monitor; I haven’t linked them here [except for the Sequestration Report, found at the end of this post] but it’s worth your time to look, since there are useful if somewhat depressing links.
Overall, the White House’s Office of Management and Budget outlined the $109 billion in spending cuts for 2013 as follows:
- Hits to defense programs of either 9.4 percent or 10 percent, depending on how they receive their appropriations from Congress ($55 billion).
- Payments to Medicare providers will be reduced by 2 percent ($11 billion).
- Cuts to non-defense spending (like elementary and secondary education or rehabilitation services and disability research) will be cut at either 8.2 percent or 7.6 percent (totaling $43 billion).
As a number of people have pointed out, post-Benghazi, the State Department doesn’t have enough funding to adequately secure its employees in places like Libya, but somehow it managed to find the money to push its green agenda, buying Chevy Volts for that hotbed of danger, the embassy in Vienna.
Pusillanimous priorities, you say? The Marines would agree.
These are tough times to be in the Corps** what with the murderous rules of engagement in our current theatre of war. That’s all the more reason to raise them high in celebration of a long, valorous history. Raise them in spite of our anti-military, anti-American commander in chief. The Corps has been here since before America’s founding. It will be still be here long after the current C-I-C has departed.
|*||White House Sequestration Report|
|**||Military Suicide Rate (pdf)|