The Defense Drumbeat Blog


View Chairman McKeon Interview on Bloomberg

 

Mackenzie Eaglen, defense policy expert and resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, has an opinion piece on FoxNews.Com today asking "Will Obama and the Pentagon do the right thing when the sequester arrives?" Read the full piece HERE

"The sequester—Washington’s mindless across the board budget cuts—is here. The question is whether the president will unilaterally grant flexibility to federal agencies to apply a measure of common sense in cutting fat, not muscle.

"The White House claims it has no authority to allow intelligent cuts in spending as long as there is a stalemate with Congress. Even though the president has already made a series of decisions to interpret the law as he sees fit and no one has stopped him. 

"He has exempted military pay from sequestration, along with the entire Veterans Affairs department. He also decided that war spending is subject to the budget ax; but that aerospace and defense manufacturers needed not follow the law and issue layoff notices last fall...just before the election.

"The question is not whether sequestration will hit, but whether President Obama will allow it to hit the right targets and whether the Pentagon will meet the challenge.

"The problem is that these are not the first defense cuts under Barack Obama. In fact, the president has been reducing military capability, capacity and budgets since entering office while generously growing other federal domestic spending. 

"In his first two years in office, the administration cut a combined $400 billion from defense plans and programs, leading to the cancellation of key weapons systems, including the F-22, the Army’s Future Combat Systems, the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, and nearly 50 other major programs. 

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In a Washington Times column this week, J.D. Gordon argues that "cutting into bone is no way to trim defense." and the President should reduce the deficit by reforming entitlement spending.  Read his full column HERE

From a math perspective, sequestration is working on the wrong problem. That’s not surprising considering it was based purely on politics as the White House proposed a congressional debt supercommittee to handle a soaring national debt, now well beyond $16 trillion. When they predictably failed, the Budget Control Act of 2011 was set in motion, giving us sequestration. Many thought the cuts would be so painful they would not happen. President Obama said as much during a presidential debate late last year.

Politics aside, however, the math is terrible. The cuts target only discretionary federal spending, now roughly 35 percent of the $3.8 trillion annual budget and shrinking fast. Meanwhile, mandatory spending tops 60 percent of the budget and is growing. Yet this category is off the table, including entitlement programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment payments. That formula will never work, and unless we restructure entitlement programs now, the country will go broke trying to pay for them.

While some downplay sequestration as political theater, noting this year’s cuts are only 2.2 percent of the total budget, those cuts are disproportionately targeted at the military. Statistically lesser cuts will be felt across the rest of the federal government

The new $500 billion in Pentagon cuts are beyond the Budget Control Act to slash defense by $487 billion over a decade, and beyond the $16 billion in efficiencies initiated by former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

Bracing for the $1 trillion shortfall with sequestration, the Pentagon is drastically scaling back — and won’t be able to adequately protect the nation for long.