From remarks before the House Nov. 2 by Rep. Les Aspin (D-Wis.):

Now that the stock market has awakened the president's flagging concern with the federal deficit, we have some reason to hope that the fiscal year 1988 defense budget will escape unbutchered from the recently enacted fix of the Gramm-Rudman legislation. This is no time for complacency, however. I still hear a lot of loose talk about the impact of automatic cuts under the new law -- a "sequestration" in its terminology -- on the defense budget. The people doing the talking, the pro-sequestors, are claiming these automatic cuts wouldn't really put the bite on defense, that relative to the likely alternatives, the cuts would be only marginal.

The pro-sequestors say that were a sequestration to be imposed the total cut in defense budget authority would be only about $19 billion off a base of about $303 billion. Since the resulting budget of $284 billion is only marginally below the $289 billion permitted by the congressional budget resolution, the pro-sequestors say a sequestration isn't so bad for defense. . . .

We need to be on our guard against the pro-sequestors. Despite his latest statements, the president is going to be reluctant to agree to the tax increases necessary to reach an agreement with Congress and avoid sequestration. He has invested too much political capital opposing tax in-creases. . . .

My conclusion is obvious. The fix to Gramm-Rudman does bite defense. From the president's perspective, it chews up defense and spits out the pieces. . . . A negotiated deficit reduction plan, therefore, no matter what it does to the defense budget, is the right solution.