Defense & National Security

The week’s top five grisly metaphors for sequestration

The week's top five grisly metaphors for sequestration

As debate on the coming budget sequester rages on, the rhetoric is becoming more heated regarding just how bad this package of cuts — $1 trillion over the next decade, divided equally between defense and domestic spending — really is. From the horrific to the nearly Shakespearian, here are the five metaphors for sequestration, deployed just this week, that really caught our attention.

5. Unemployment Armageddon

Aerospace Industries Association CEO Marion Blakey coined this term while presenting a new study that discussed the prospect of a loss of over 2 million jobs under sequestration, enough to increase unemployment by 1.5 percentage points.

Bonus: a reference to the French revolution. “The guillotine falls in just 168 days,” Blakey said on Tuesday.

4. Game of chicken

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) a Senate Armed Services Committee member and speculative option for the Republican vice presidential nomination, uttered this irreverent classic at the AIA event Tuesday, discussing the way Congress is hurtling toward a budget disaster without coming together to find responsible alternative spending cuts. Ayotte has accepted every opportunity to condemn sequestration in recent weeks, on Capitol Hill and in her home state of New Hampshire, which stands to lose 6,300 jobs. She next appears Wednesday afternoon at a joint event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, Foreign Policy Initiative, and American Enterprise Institute to talk about the sequester’s effect on the defense industrial base.

3. Sword of Damocles

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), using the phrase in a Wednesday House Armed Services Hearing on sequestration and the defense industry, was drawing from Greek mythology about a king who governs from a throne placed underneath a sword suspended by a single horsehair. Not a bad analogy for a frightening dilemma, but national defense and American jobs, not the nation’s elected leaders, are in jeopardy here. Well, maybe they all are.

2. A Comedy Central joke

Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) dismissed efforts of the parties to reconcile on sequestration thus during a one-minute House floor speech Wednesday morning. Democrats (and President Barack Obama) have largely refused to countenance any sequester alternative that does not also raise taxes; Republicans say spending led to the current deficit disaster and Congress has no right enabling any more. Neither side seems likely to cave. This may be a joke, but it’s not very funny.

1. Cosmetic surgery…with a chainsaw

Della Williams, president of the Fort Worth-based Williams-Pyro manufacturing company, used this horrific image, our favorite so far, to describe the clumsy way the sequester mechanism lops programs and contracts without strategy or specificity. “The United States could lose our technological and strategic advantage and never get it back,” said Williams, who said the prospect of sequester is already beginning to affect her own company.

The metaphors will keep on flowing. What we’re still in the hunt for: a plain-English, politically workable way to avoid the cuts and get U.S. spending under control.

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