Sequestration: Much Larger Spending Cuts Needed to Balance the Budget


Sequestration, the set of automatic spending reductions set to hit on March 1, barely makes a dent in federal spending over the next decade. Much larger spending cuts are needed to rein in growing spending and debt and avoid a debt crisis.

Federal spending is projected to grow from $3.6 trillion in 2013 to more than $6 trillion by 2023, a 69 percent increase without sequestration. Even with sequestration, federal spending would still grow by 67 percent. Sequestration barely even slows the growth in spending, let alone cuts any spending out of the overall budget.

Although sequestration this year will cut $85 billion out of agency budgets, the actual spending reduction in fiscal year (FY) 2013 will be only about $42 billion, as spending budgeted in one year often does not go out the door until future years. In the world of Washington budget-speak, this spending is referred to as “outlays.”

Spending continues growing at this massive pace because sequestration leaves the real drivers of spending and debt—the entitlement programs—nearly untouched. In 2013, spending is projected to grow by $57 billon without sequestration and by $15 billion with sequestration. The sequestration reduction to discretionary spending, including to defense, of $39 billion in 2013 is more than offset by the $85 billion increase in mandatory or entitlement spending this year.



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