Should we embrace sequestration?

The deadline for sequestration is looming, and it isn't clear if there will be a permanent resolution in time. Are we better off taking the hit now, or kicking the can down the road again?

The deadline for sequestration is just a month away, and there seems to be no prevailing wisdom on whether Congress will act or not.

I’ve read some reports that say the likelihood of sequestration is increasing. They point to a lack of serious negotiations between Congress and the White House, and a growing willingness of both parties to let it happen.

At the same time, others are expressing confidence that it will be solved in time.

The contraction in gross domestic product for the last quarter of 2012 has been blamed in part on a severe slowdown in government spending. There also have been several studies in Europe that have shown that severely cutting government spending has a larger negative impact on the economy than previously thought.

You’d think the combination of those two factors would scare Congress and the White House into doing something, rather than risk a recession. The world is watching us, and what we do here will have an impact beyond our borders.

And maybe they still will act, but most likely it’ll be at the last minute. More brinkmanship. And the closer to the deadline, the more likely we’ll just get a temporary fix again. More "kick the can down the road."

Of course, on the heels of the sequestration deadline is the deadline for the continuing resolution, which runs through March 27.

It would seem prudent to solve sequestration first, and then pass a budget. Or, at least, do them simultaneously.

But, sense and prudence don’t seem to be part of how things operate between Congress and the White House.

One thing in favor of a resolution is that so many of the prognosticators, myself included, have been wrong.

I wrote in August how people were saying that sequestration would be wrapped up in a continuing resolution before the end of the fiscal year. When that didn’t happen, the focus shifted to after the elections and the lame duck session. The prevailing wisdom was that the problem would be solved before Christmas. That didn’t happen either.

With more people saying that sequestration will happen this time, maybe we’ll be wrong again, and a solution will be pushed through.

I’m also getting a real sense of fatigue. As painful and reckless as sequestration will be, maybe we are better off hitting it than continuing to delay it. Maybe that will lift some of the veil of uncertainty, and allow contractors and agencies to plan more than two months at a time.

Maybe we should embrace sequestration. At least then we'll know what we're dealing with and how to move forward.

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