“Somehow, the idea that if we go back to 2007 military funding levels we’re going to be a second-rate power, well that’s overdoing it,” said Lawrence Korb, a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress and a former U.S. assistant defense secretary.

“If you kept this cut, you’re back to $500 billion a year. I find it hard to get that worried about it,” Korb said, noting that this was still vastly more than any other country spends on its military…

But even on the domestic side, the predictions of gloom are subject to hyperbole and political calculation, he said.

“If I’m the administration, I’m going to ramp up the biggest and most horrible effects I can to put pressure on the Republicans” to reach a deal to prevent the cuts.

Werfel acknowledged that, unlike a government shutdown, not all of the effects are going to happen immediately when the cuts begin on March 1.