Common Defense Richard Falknor on 20 Mar 2012 07:19 pm
“Most Republicans see [the coming severe defense cuts] as a problem that can be put off until January 2013, either in a lame-duck congressional session or when (they hope) a new Republican president takes office. They are dangerously mistaken. Chairman Martin Dempsey has told the Senate Budget Committee that defense contractors are already making decisions to lay off workers in anticipation of sequestration. And to meet the January deadline, the Pentagon will have to begin canceling programs this summer. Many of these decisions, once made, could prove irreversible. A shipyard or aircraft production facility closed because of program cancellations will not be there when we are ready to buy ships and planes again.” — Marc A. Thiessen
We would add to Mr. Thiessen’s insight — “most Republicans” who are even aware of these cuts.
Twice last month here we highlighted the pioneering work of the Center for Security Policy (CSP) in showing, right down to cities and counties in Maryland and Virginia (and of course nationally), the economic consequences of coming defense cuts.
In CSP’s words —
“Defense budgets for 2013-2021 were cut $487 billion – a 9% cut at a minimum. ‘Sequestration,’ required by law with passage of the Budget Control Act in 2011, mandates $500 billion more in 2013-2021 defense cuts – an 18% cut, at a minimum. President Obama has stated he will veto any attempt by Congress to reverse these cuts.”
American Enterprise Institute (AEI) visiting fellow Thiessen explained more background (Washington Post) last Thursday —
“Unless Congress acts, this summer the Pentagon will begin making across-the-board cuts in defense programs — cuts that will eventually be so deep that the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said they will end the United States’s status as a global superpower. Yet there seems to be almost no sense of urgency among congressional Republicans for immediate action to stop this gutting of the country’s national defense. Ronald Reagan, the architect of ‘peace through strength,’ would be appalled.
The GOP shares a large part of the blame for putting our military in this predicament. As part of last year’s Budget Control Act, Republicans agreed to $600 billion in automatic defense cuts (scheduled to begin in January 2013) if the congressional deficit-reduction supercommittee failed to reach agreement. The GOP refused to include automatic tax increases as part of this sequester. But automatic cuts to national defense? This Republicans were willing to risk.”
Thiessen, a former Donald Rumsfeld aide, pointed to the increasing foreign threats to an insufficiently prepared America —
“Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. China is dramatically increasing its defense budget. The Middle East is in turmoil. Terrorists are plotting attacks. Gen. Dempsey recently told Congress, ‘We are living in the most dangerous time in my lifetime.’ Republicans who proudly call themselves ‘constitutional conservatives’ need to remember their first responsibility under the Constitution is to ‘provide for the common defense.’ If they don’t reverse the sequester, they will have failed that responsibility.”
AEI’s Thiessen is right when he suggests that the GOP Congressional leadership (in our view, an inept and timid crowd) led us into the Obama defense- sequestration trap.
As Heritage Action declared last July 31 at the time of the “budget deal” —
“We are skeptical of ‘super committees’ tasked with brokering grand bargains and we are adamantly opposed to committees that are given the authority to raise taxes on the American people and to bring about the gutting of our national defense budget. This deal highlights how dysfunctional Washington has become and we will continue to oppose it as insufficient to the task at hand.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)
We agree about the imperative of reversing the sequester (and more) – although we certainly don’t believe an adequate defense requires tax hikes.
See The Local Consequences of the Coming Cuts
Readers are encouraged to revisit how the coming defense cuts will affect their towns and counties in Maryland and Virginia.
Who knew that Montgomery County, Maryland had over $7 billion in defense contracts in 2010? Certainly not the “anti-war” dwellers of Takoma Park.
Across the Potomac, Fairfax County and Fairfax City, Virginia total nearly $28 billion in defense contracts in 2010.
A Better Approach Through The Enactment of The Ryan Budget in 2013?
“Rather than hampering our troops with the specter of blind and massive cuts in the years to come, Chairman Ryan pays down sequestration for the first year; giving us all time to find a comprehensive solution.” (Underscoring Forum’s.)
Maryland and Virginia voters themselves need to bring Congressional incumbents and challengers to a more alert mind on the consequences of these imminent defense cuts in their constituencies. In the national capital area, these cuts might well have grave results for many family budgets and for home values.