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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Specific Military Cuts Were Chosen by Panetta, Not "Forced" by Sequester

Specific Military Cuts Were Chosen by Panetta, Not "Forced" by Sequester

Thursday, 07 February 2013 05:14

The NYT reported on cuts in military spending that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said could happen if the sequester goes into effect on March 1. The NYT referred to these cuts as "forced," implying that they were required by the sequester.

This is not accurate. The sequester requires a cut in military spending of approximately 6 percent. The specific cuts chosen presumably reflects the fact that Mr. Panetta views the items to be the least important to the country's defense. Alternatively, it is possible that Panetta has decided to highlight possible cuts that would provoke the maximum political reaction. In either case the cuts were selected by him, they were not forced by the sequester.

Comments (4)Add Comment
written by David, February 07, 2013 8:58
"The sequester made me do it!" said Secretary Panetta.

Similarly, the NYT reporter and editor who ran that piece didn't actually decide on the wording, it was completely determined by their deadline.

Journalism died 10.5 years ago.
written by watermelonpunch, February 07, 2013 3:37
What possible explanations could there be for the NYT missing this important detail?
written by kharris, February 07, 2013 3:46
It doesn't do to correct the NYT by saying something no truer than what you are correcting. Panetta is being forced to make some spending cuts, but not the particular spending cuts he is making. He has latitude, yes, but he has (had, that is) no choice under law but to reduce spending plans. In federal budgeting, that's pretty much being "forced". At best, your point is trivial.

Dean, you are back to your too-clever style of argumentation. This sort of thing may win the applause of those already sympathetic to your view, but if you really want to contribute to the debate, you need to toss a bit more substance into what you write.
written by watermelonpunch, February 07, 2013 10:15
If I read that article, and left it at that, I wouldn't have thought about who makes that decision, or what determines the specifics, just that for whatever reason, that's the particular thing that would have to go.

I think it's an important distinction, if there are possibly other things that a lot of people would much prefer reduced, compared to what he's suggesting.
It's a legit concern that a political maneuver might be supported, coyly, by a newspaper. (I think they call it "propanda".)
In my opinion, if a newspaper supports a particular political cause, they should at least be transparent about it.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.