We've all heard about sequestration, a mandatory cutting of federal expenditures on apocalyptic levels if a budget deal is not struck in Congress before the New Year. However, does anyone really know what it will mean for international affairs budgeting if sequestration takes effect?
The short answer is: it doesn't look good.
To begin, let's run through what would happen on the macro level if sequestration kicks in. If sequestration is not avoided, the Office of Management and Budget will cancel $110 billion in spending for fiscal year 2013, with a grand total of $1.2 trillion in savings through fiscal year 2021. The amount of money saved by sequestration will be split 50/50 between Defense programs and non-Defense programs, with Social Security, Medicaid, and the majority of Medicare escaping unscathed.
Using fiscal year 2013 as a model and assuming percentage cuts between seven and ten percent, that would mean that Defense spending would drop by $55 billion and non-Defense discretionary spending would be cut, again, by $55 billion, which includes the International Affairs Budget.
What does this mean for the International Affairs Budget? If everything goes according to projections, the post-sequestration International Affairs budget in fiscal year 2013 would be approximately $47.7 billion. This total is $7.2 billion less than the fiscal year 2012 enacted amount ($54.9 bn) and $8.7 billion less than the fiscal year 2013 request ($56.2 bn). What does this kind of cut mean in terms of what will be impacted? The U.S. Global Leadership Coalition, a network of experts, businesses, and NGOs, has put together a fantastic little chart on what some of the cuts would be: