The key reason is that fully half the cuts are cuts to “defense” spending, and yet nobody from either party is seriously trying to maintain that America will be left defenseless in the wake of this reduced military spending. The specific sequestration mechanism is clearly awkward and clumsy, but again nobody’s saying the Mexican army is going to come swarming over the border to reconquer Santa Fe, that the Taliban is now going to be able to outspend the Pentagon, or that America’s NATO allies are now left unable to fend off a Russian invasion. That’s half the cuts with basically zero real public policy harm.
If I had to choose one thing that surprised me the most about this whole sequestration situation, it’s how little the “cutting defense will make us vulnerable!” line has influenced the discussion. If there’s anything that Republicans hate to cut, it’s defense spending – Paul Ryan’s budget proposal even calls for increasing Pentagon funding while eliminating Medicare as we know it. And yet, unless some alternate deal is arranged sometime in the next few months, defense funding will fall by over $40 billion, putting it somewhere in between 2010 and 2011 spending levels.