White House releases report detailing potential sequestration cuts

No amount of planning can mitigate the effect of these cuts.

The White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a report today that outlines where and how cuts will be made if Congress does not act to avoid “sequestration.” A provision in the Budget Control Act, passed last year, required that unless a congressional joint committee proposed a plan, and Congress enacted the plan, for $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over a ten-year period, the same amount would be sequestered in across-the-board cuts to defense and non-defense discretionary accounts. The first round of cuts — $110 billion — is set to take effect on Jan. 2, 2013. The 400-page report from OMB stated that achieving the deficit reduction targets called for in the Budget Control Act would require an immediate 9.4 percent cut in defense programs and 8.2 percent reduction in domestic initiatives in January.

“The Administration does not support these cuts, but unless Congress acts responsibly, there will be no choice but to implement them,” the report says. “The Administration strongly believes that sequestration is bad policy and that Congress can and should take action to avoid it by passing a comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction package.”

Non-defense science agencies would sustain 8.2 percent cuts and non-exempt defense research would be cut 9.4 percent. For the National Institutes of Health, the amount sequestered would equal over $2.5 billion. For the National Science Foundation, the amount sequestered would be $586 million.

The American Psychological Association and other organizations are encouraging Congress to avoid sequestration by adopting a balanced approach to deficit reduction that does not rely solely on cuts to the small portion of the federal budget that is discretionary, that is, subject to annual appropriations.