As Democrats and Republicans fight over vastly different plans to avoid preprogrammed federal budget cuts, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., believes the U.S. will soon enter a period of sequestration because of the parties’ inability to reconcile their plans.
“I think the sequester is going to happen," Ryan, the chairman of the House of Representatives Budget Committee and the GOP's vice presidential nominee last year, said on NBC's "Meet The Press" Sunday.
In his first live television interview since the presidential election, Ryan explained that he feels the Democrats are not working to prepare their own spending cuts. As a result, he said the House and Senate will not be able to pass a proper spending bill, and the country will go into sequestration, as contemplated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 that concluded the debt-ceiling donnybrook during the summer of that year.
In avoiding the so-called fiscal cliff this month, the federal government adopted stopgap funding legislation, basically delaying the deadline for a new spending measure until March 27.
Under sequestration, preprogrammed budget cuts will have begun well before then. On Friday, the Pentagon said it had started laying off most of its 46,000 temporary employees and postponing maintenance on aircraft and ships in an effort to rein in its spending before almost $50 billion in new cuts are scheduled to go into effect on March 1, as Reuters reported.
The White House Office of Management and Budget released a report on the sequestration in September, saying its findings leave “no question that the sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions.”
"We think these sequesters will happen because the Democrats have opposed our efforts to replace those cuts with others and they've offered no alternative," Ryan said.
The Democratic Party battle plan has been to argue for higher taxes and moderately lower spending. The comparable Republican Party battle plan has been to call for comparatively deeper spending cuts -- albeit differently targeted than those preprogrammed at present -- and no tax hike of any kind.
If the two parties cannot reconcile on a spending bill by the country’s self-imposed deadline, then it could be disastrous for the nation.
Many have argued that should the U.S. go into sequestration, it could essentially shut down large portions of the government, including some military operations. Almost half a trillion dollars would be slashed from the nation’s defense budget over the next 10 years, about $55 billion in the first year alone, Time magazine reported.
Sequestration would basically turn the military into a “paper tiger ... unable to keep up with potential adversaries,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in November 2011. “In effect, it invites aggression.”
And Ryan appears to believe the possibility of the impending sequestration is entirely President Barack Obama’s fault.
“I don’t think that the president actually thinks we have a fiscal crisis,” Ryan said.
Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn.