There are lots of steps required for conservatives to regain the political upper hand, but here's the first: Exempt defense from sequestration. At CFIF, I explain that it's both good policy and good politics. On policy, while making clear that defense should not be exempt from savings, but just from this huge, meat-cleaver chopping action, I note:
[A]utomatic cuts from domestic spending, which have risen 8 percent, make more sense than automatic cuts from defense, which already will have fallen by 15 percent (and by much more compared to the Surge years).
Worse, our defense forces even before that had borne the brunt of massive reductions since the Cold War. The number of Navy ships has been halved, from 571 to 282. Active duty military personnel have dropped from more than two million in 1990 to less than 1.5 million today, even as we face worldwide terrorist threats much worse than two decades ago. The Air Force in particular, despite its crucial ability for rapid force projection, has cut its manpower by an astonishing 40 percent.
On politics, I explain:
The administration can’t argue otherwise. Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is on record numerous times saying cuts of sequestration’s magnitude would be an absolute “disaster” for our national security.
The House’s public argument to Obama would be: “Look, we disagree on domestic spending, but your administration agrees with us against defense sequestration, so let’s get that problem off the table.” What could be more reasonable than that, to avoid part of the brinksmanship that the public so despises? If Obama refuses, he automatically looks like the obstinately irrational one – especially for an area of spending the public tends to favor, and especially if individual congressmen and media also highlight how many defense-related civilian jobs will be lost, location by location, if defense suffers sequestration.
The explanation is more extensive than just those two passages. Please read the whole thing. Other tactics, and a bigger picture view, coming soon....