By: Lt. Gen. Garry Trexler USAF (Ret.)
Knoxville News Sentinel

While the economy seems to be picking up steam (“Editorial: Recovery finally has positive effect on the job market”), economists say that Congress’ budgeting-by-chainsaw policy of “sequestration” could raise the unemployment rate back above 9 percent, and defense experts say it could devastate our national security.

Triggered by last year’s budget deal, sequestration requires drastic across-the-board cuts that would slash essential programs at the same rate as wasteful spending. The defense budget — already cut $850 billion over the past two years — would lose another $600 billion, which could throw 1.5 million Americans out of work (including some 9,400 in Tennessee), according to economists at the University of Maryland. These defense cuts would also shrivel the size of our armed forces and end much-needed modernization programs.

If Congress allows sequestration to wipe out military research and development, by 2020 our troops will be relying on fighter jets and tanks with 40-year-old technology, while superior Chinese and Russian stealth fighters now in development could rule the skies. Although R&D accounts for less than 2 percent of the federal budget, it keeps us a step ahead of our enemies while generating innovations like lasers, microwaves and plastics that boost our economy.

Congress, don’t let the sequestration chainsaw rip our economy and national security to shreds.