Wednesday, November 23, 2011

11/9/11 RD Bulletin: DoD Defenders Target Sequestration

ed. Ethan R. Rosenkranz
State of Play
Legislative: Super Committee deliberations appear to have stalled as Democrats demand that Republicans agree to increased federal revenues before negotiations can continue.  Meanwhile, Republicans countered with a proposal to limit certain tax deductions, like the mortgage interest deduction, in exchange for making permanent all of the Bush-era tax breaks.  However, with roughly two weeks left before the Super Committee’s deadline for action, prospects for a compromise plan have dimmed considerably.  In fact, Politico reports that Democrats and Republicans on the Super Committee “remain trillions of dollars apart just two weeks from the Nov. 23 deadline.”  

SASC Chairman Levin and Ranking Member McCain indicated that the defense authorization bill may come to the Senate Floor before the chamber recesses for Thanksgiving.  And while reiterating his pledge to oppose sequestration cuts to defense, Sen. McCain also indicated there was “sufficient support” within Congress to undo the sequestration trigger should the Super Committee fail to enact $1.2 trillion in savings.  

Executive: In an interview with the New York Times this weekend, Secretary Panetta hinted at some of the items that may be included in the Pentagon’s forthcoming budget review, including overseas base closings, military compensation reform, troop reductions, nuclear weapons cuts, and a reduction in procurement of the F-35.  And speaking of F-35s, the Air Force has confirmed that its variant of the F-35 will not be ready for combat until 2018, two years later than expected.  Since development began on the F-35 in 2001, the program has seen a 64-percent increase in overall cost.  


Counterpunch: Defense Cuts Hysteria
Former Hill staffer Mike Lofgren responds to the recent Washington Post op-ed in support of defense spending.  (11/8/11)

Neiman Watchdog: Defense Budget Alarmism Necessitates Journalistic Skepticism
Bill Hartung dispels three common myths emerging from the defense budget debate, including the idea that the Obama Administration has already cut defense “to the bone.”  (11/7/11)

Straus Military Reform Project: Washington Post Joins Hysterical Defense Budget Rhetoric
In a series of graphs, Winslow Wheeler shows that, even under a defense sequestration scenario, Pentagon funding would remain at historic highs in current dollars.  (11/7/11)

New York Times: Weighing Pentagon Cuts, Panetta Faces Deep Pressures
In a wide-ranging interview, Panetta says he is considering increasing fees in TRICARE, closing overseas bases, and delaying or reducing procurement of the F-35.  (11/6/11)

Other News and Commentary

AOL Defense: ‘Eternal Optimist’ Flourney: We Won’t Salami-slice Military Budget
While guarding details of the Administration’s $450 billion in planned cuts, Undersecretary for Policy Michèle Flourney says she opposes across-the-board “salami-slice” cuts in favor of a strategy-driven process that may undo the golden ratio.  (11/8/11)

Secrecy News: Cost of Nuclear Weapons Program in Dispute
Without a unified, comprehensive nuclear weapons budget, calculating the amount of money the United States spends on nukes can be very difficult.  (11/8/11)

Battleland: Iraq: “Was That Lack of Immunity for U.S. Troops Simply an Excuse to Pull Out?”
Mark Thompson, Larry Korb, and a panel of analysts discuss the issue of diplomatic immunity in Iraq and whether it was used as an excuse by the Obama Administration to completely withdrawal from Iraq by the year’s end. (11/8/11)

American Forces Press Service: Dempsey Details Vision of 2020 Military Strategy
Outlining his priorities for future military strategy, Gen. Dempsey says the Pentagon will have to focus on priority regions, merge general operations with special operations more effectively, and ramp up cybersecurity efforts.  (11/7/11)

The Cable: Rumsfeld’s CFO: Bring on the Supercommittee’s Defense “Trigger”
In an interview, a former Rumsfeld aide and current Romney advisor argues that pro-defense lawmakers should let the Super Committee fail because defense sequestration is so unpalatable that it will never be enacted.  (11/7/11)

Washington Post: U.S. Defense on Defensive
Seemingly buying into the defense budget hysteria, the Washington Post editorial board argues it would be an “unconscious act of political irresponsibility” if Congress allows Pentagon cuts in excess of $460 billion to take place over ten years.  (11/6/11)

Washington Times: Critics on Left Hit Pentagon on Talk of Budget Disasters
Winslow Wheeler and Larry Korb counter Pentagon officials’ dire warnings about sequestration cuts by pointing out that it would only bring defense spending down to 2007 levels and would be a comparatively smaller drawdown than the one that followed the end of the Cold War. (11/6/11)

New York Times: Lawmakers Aim to Stop Defense Cuts if Debt Panel Fails
Sen. Lindsey Graham has drafted legislation that would prevent sequestration cuts to defense while enacting a 5 percent cut to other accounts and a 10 percent cut to Members’ salaries; however Speaker Boehner feels “bound” to sequestration pledging that he would not work to under automatic cuts to defense.  (11/4/11)

Reports and Publications

The American Security Project: Nuclear Security Index: Assessing Modern Nuclear Threats and the Tools to Combat Them