Rep. Thornberry: Hill Fights Mean Sequestration Happens; Then We Can Fix
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
Published: January 30, 2013
WASHINGTON: Political gridlock has gotten so bad that the best bet to stop sequestration is after it starts, Rep. Mac Thornberry believes. Only a real crisis -- not just an impending one -- can force the two parties to cut a deal, he told AOL Defense. But, the conservative Republican emphasized, he stuck to the House GOP line that further tax revenues are off the table.
"I still have hope," Thornberry said when I accosted him after he spoke this morning at the National Defense Industrial Association s annual special operations conference. Thornberry chairs the "emerging threats" panel on the House Armed Services Committee, a panel recently empowered with new authority over intelligence matters, and his speech mostly addressed issues specific to special operations. But he started by lamenting the looming spending cuts known as the sequester -- arguing that the Democratic-controlled Senate had failed to act to stop them. And he suggested sequestration would at least start to be implemented before Congress could get its act together to turn it off.
Only this month, with the services and Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter issuing memos ordering cost-cutting measures and warning of grim cuts to readiness accounts, Thornberry said, have most politicians really begun to understand how badly this is going to hurt.
Republicans know where they want to cut: "Two-thirds of the budget is entitlement spending," said Thornberry. (That's a trifle high: Even the conservative Heritage Foundation puts the total at 62 percent, while the slightly-left-of-center Brookings Institution, using a narrower definition of "entitlements," puts it at 45 percent).