Former senator Phil Gramm (R., Tex.) tells national review online he’s “adamantly opposed” to circumventing the sequester. “It would send a very, very bad signal to the markets,” he warns.
Luckily, he thinks it won’t happen. “Obama has said he wouldn’t sign it,” he says. “There are a lot of Republicans who won’t do it.”
And across-the-board cuts, while disagreeable, aren’t disastrous. “You’ve always got a group of people in the defense area who get things a little out of perspective,” Gramm argues.
“To suggest that there’s no waste in defense is laughable,” he maintains. “Every branch in the service has people out there trying to find alternative fuels, and we have CHAMPUS [the Defense Department’s health-care program], which is second only to Medicaid in terms of its generosity.”
Besides, even if Congress swallows the cuts, “you’re still going to be spending more on defense in real terms than you were the day that [Nancy] Pelosi became speaker.” ($77 billion more, to be precise.)
Echoing his recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Gramm notes that “there’s one more bite to be had out of this apple.” In the Budget Control Act, the legislation that sired the supercommittee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) inserted a provision that repealed the expiration date for the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985, commonly known as Gramm-Ruddman-Hollings.
Thus, the revitalized Gramm-Ruddman-Hollings allows the president to propose a reallocation of cuts among defense-spending accounts. The president’s proposal “would be privileged, it could be amended with relevant amendments, but it couldn’t be filibustered,” Gramm explains.
Likewise, the law permits the majority leader in either house to propose an alternative within 20 days before the sequester takes effect on Jan. 2, 2013. The newly elected, or reelected, president could “literally sign that bill as his hand came off the Bible.”
In short, we’ve got options. But the fact that the supercommittee has failed to reach a deal so far has left Gramm glum. “I’m disappointed,” he admits.