Midway through Wednesday's Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on cyber security, Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) turned the conversation to the budget cuts that threaten the intelligence community.And:
"My staff inform me that last week we received a notice, our committee received a notice, that about half of NSA personnel in the cyber threat center could be furloughed as a result of sequestration," he said, speaking to the committee's witness, NSA Chief Gen. Keith Alexander.
At a little-noticed rally two weeks ago, the state's governor, Phil Bryant, its other U.S. Senator, Roger Wicker, and two representatives, Gregg Harper and Alan Nunnelee, protested the cuts to the Defense Department's acquisition programs. Of particular concern was the downsizing of the UH-72A Lakota helicopter program, produced in the local Columbia, Miss., plant. EADS North America, which makes the Lakota helicopter, has said it is contemplating slashing 300 jobs in Columbia alone.Great! Republicans are against the sequester. So let's get rid of it, right? Well, not exactly. These guys may bellyache about how the sequester is impacting their priorities and their state ... but they don't want to get rid of sequestration. They just want to get rid of the parts that impact them.
For example, just as sequestration kicked in, Wicker—while lamenting its impact on defense spending—was pitching sequestration as a necessary dose of tough medicine and saying that it wouldn't be all that big a deal.
The most uncomfortable part of the sequestration cuts, Wicker said, are those affecting the Department of Defense, but he added much of the impact in domestic areas is exaggerated.There are some true sequester enthusiasts, but for the most part nobody in Washington wants to brag about it, even when they are making the case for it. But at the same time, nobody—not the president, not congressional Democratic leadership, and certainly not congressional Republicans—can muster the courage to support the only obvious solution: repealing it altogether. It's truly one of the stupidest fiscal policies D.C. has ever enacted.
"It's not going to be dramatic like a government shutdown," Wicker said. "I think people need to realize that. We don't have to close air traffic control towers. The Department of Transportation seems to have chosen that. I regret that we're up to the brink again, and I know it seems to the public that we're always doing this, but we need to address our spending problem."