Defense

November 14, 2012

Deficit cutters look to Pentagon budget

One war is done, another is winding down and the calls to cut the deficit are deafening. The U.S. military, a beneficiary of robust budgets for more than a decade, is coming to grips with a new reality – fewer dollars.

The election accelerated an already shifting political dynamic that next year will pair a second-term Democratic president searching for spending cuts with tea partyers and conservatives intent on preserving lower tax rates above all else, even if it means once unheard-of reductions in defense.

President Barack Obama and Congress have just a few weeks to figure out how to avert the automatic cuts to defense and domestic programs totaling $110 billion next year. Those reductions are part of the so-called fiscal cliff of expiring Bush-era tax cuts and the across-the-board cuts that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has warned would be devastating to the military.

All sides are trying to come up with a deficit-cutting plan of $1.2 trillion over 10 years. Any solution that might emerge from the high-stakes negotiations before the Jan. 2 deadline likely would include some reductions in the military budget, which has nearly doubled in the last decade to half a trillion dollars. That amount doesn’t include the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Projected defense spending over the next 10 years was expected to grow to $640 billion.

In the parlance of Willie Sutton, who supposedly said he robbed banks because that’s where the money was, the military budget is where the dollars are for Washington negotiators.

“It is a big piggybank,” said former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, a Republican who along with Democrat Erskine Bowles had recommended $4 trillion in budget cuts over a decade, including deep reductions in defense, as part of a special presidential commission in December 2010.

“If you can’t get in there and start getting stuff out of there when you have a defense budget of 740 billion bucks – and the defense budget of every major country on earth, 17 of them, including Russia and China, is $540 billion combined, who is joshing who?” said Simpson. “That’s madness, madness.”

One possible starting point is the recommendation of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin, who indicated earlier this year that he would be willing to accept additional defense cuts of $10 billion a year as part of any solution to avoid the across-the-board cuts.

“I think it’s got to be all one package, and defense has to participate. Everything has to be on the table,” said former Sen. Sam Nunn, a predecessor of Levin at the helm of Armed Services who also insisted that the rising cost of Social Security and Medicare needs to be addressed.

Nunn pointed out that former Defense Secretary Bob Gates and retired Adm. Mike Mullen, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have said the greatest threat to national security is the nation’s fiscal crisis.

In past negotiations, Congress and the White House had considered changes in the military’s TRICARE health program, which costs more than $50 billion and has exploded into the biggest entitlement program for the Pentagon. Working-age military retirees have only seen small increases in their premium costs as their friends in Congress have fought any changes.

The Pentagon budget already is facing a 10-year reduction of $487 billion in projected spending, the result of the budget agreement reached by Obama and Congress in August 2011.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines April 21, 2014

News: Former Ranger breaks silence on Pat Tillman death: I may have killed him - Almost 10 years after the friendly fire death of former NFL star turned Army Ranger Pat Tillman, a fellow ranger admits that he may have been the one who fired the fatal shot.   Business: Ship study should favor existing designs -...
 
 

News Briefs April 21, 2014

Navy OKs changes for submariners’ sleep schedules The U.S. Navy has endorsed changes to submarine sailors’ schedules based on research into sleep patterns by a military laboratory in Connecticut. With no sunlight to set day apart from night on a submarine, the Navy for decades has staggered sailors’ working hours on schedules with little resemblance...
 
 

NASA cargo launches to space station aboard SpaceX resupply mission

Nearly 2.5 tons of NASA science investigations and cargo are on the way to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. The spacecraft launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 3:25 p.m., EDT, April 18. The mission is the company’s third...
 

 

Second series of CASIS-sponsored research payloads launch to ISS

The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space is proud to announce several sponsored research payloads have launched to the International Space Station onboard the Space Exploration Technology Corporation’s Dragon cargo capsule. This marks the second series of investigations headed to the station that are sponsored by CASIS, the nonprofit responsible for managing research...
 
 

Boeing to give California workers $47 million in back pay

PALMDALE, Calif. – Boeing will pay $47 million to hundreds of current and former Southern California employees who are owed back pay and benefits, a union announced April 18. An arbitrator ruled against the aerospace giant in January and laid down guidelines for the payments and interest, but it took months to cull through records...
 
 

NASA selects commercial crew program manager

NASA has selected Kathy Lueders as program manager for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Lueders, who has served as acting program manager since October 2013, will help keep the nation’s space program on course to launch astronauts from American soil by 2017 aboard spacecraft built by American companies. “This is a particularly critical time for...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>