Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12/2/11 RD Bulletin: Cantor Looks to Rework Cuts in End-Year Scramble

Legislative: According to Politico, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is “quietly working… to build support for a plan to rework automatic spending cuts and combine the proposal with a wide range of critical year-end tax and spending measures,” which include an omnibus spending bill, AMT patch, Medicare doc fix, unemployment insurance, and payroll tax cut extension.  Supposedly, Cantor is attempting to replace the sequestration cuts with cuts to mandatory spending.  House Speaker John Boehner, through a spokesperson, appeared open to the idea of reworking sequestration cuts.  The Speaker himself has called on President Obama to work with Congress to avoid automatic cuts to defense.  Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA), a retired marine and son of a former HASC chairman, has written President Obama urging him to exercise his authority under the Budget Control Act to exempt personnel accounts from sequestration cuts.  Meanwhile, HASC Republicans released another “doomsday” video warning of the impact of defense cuts.  The Senate has approved a $662 billion defense authorization bill (which still requires House concurrence or conference), potentially setting up a veto showdown with the White House over controversial detainee provisions.  Also, the Senate adopted an amendment to the bill that would require DoD to expedite its audit plans. 

Executive: Inside Defense reports that the Pentagon’s FY13 “budget proposal will be cut by at least $40 billion, followed by cuts of roughly $50 billion annually for a decade, to comply with spending caps Congress and the White House agreed to in August.”  According to unnamed administration officials, the Pentagon has given the White House a draft of its upcoming strategic review which will recommend how to achieve up to $450 billion in defense cuts relative to the President’s last budget request.  The Marine Corps could begin training pilots for the troubled F-35B as soon as August, 2012, while the Senate-passed defense authorization would direct the Pentagon to explain how the F-35B’s can end its “probation”. 

Polling: A poll conducted by CNN and the Opinion Research Corporation just before Thanksgiving indicates that a majority of Americans believe the United States should be very reluctant to take military action overseas, although there is a large partisan split between Republicans and Democrats over the question.  Click here for CNN’s analysis of the poll.


A new fact sheet from the Stimson Center shows how sequestration of DoD funds could play out, potentially imposing a 10 percent cut in Pentagon funding in FY13, but then allowing the budget to rise in nominal terms through FY21. 

The Pentagon has provided the White House with a draft version of its upcoming strategy review, indicating that the document is almost completed.  (11/30/11)

Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe from the War Costs campaign deconstruct the jobs debate, while Bill Hartung calls Panetta and McKeon’s recent efforts a “propaganda campaign.”  (11/29/11)

In a piece by Kate Brannen, Chris Preble argues that the Pentagon should long have been planning for budget cuts since the current debt crisis has been building for years.  (11/28/11)

A Bloomberg articles questions Panetta’s doomsday rhetoric, which Winslow Wheeler calls “gibberish.”  (11/28/11)

Other News and Commentary

The head of the JSF program admits in an interview with AOL Defense that concurrency testing was a “miscalculation’ and that hot spots found over the past year may delay production of the aircraft.  (12/1/11)

David Axe describes a new Pentagon estimate that shows operation costs for the V-22 have risen by 61 percent, or $121 billion, raising concern for the often-maligned aircraft program.  (12/1/11)

Richard Kohn, a former QDR independent reviewer, argues in favor of defense spending reductions and urges a reformulation of defense policy and strategy while eliminating redundancies and cutting force structure.  (12/1/11)

Philip Ewing looks at the upcoming political battle over sequestration cuts and how it may play out.  (12/1/11)

Byron Callan, a defense stock analyst, questions whether the United States will actually pivot away from the Middle East and Central Asia due to budget constraints. 

With this year’s budget process having progressed so far already, DoD officials have not received directions to incorporate potential sequestration cuts into their FY13 budget request.  (11/30/11)

The Pentagon may offer lawmakers a preview of the President’s upcoming budget request in an attempt to ward off Congressional opposition to planned cuts.  (11/30/11)

Glenn Kessler fact-checks the Ploughshares Fund report that concludes the U.S. will spend $700 billion on nuclear weapons over the next decade.  (11/30/11)

Philip Ewing ponders the seemingly unthinkable: “Are there alternatives to the F-35?”  (11/30/11)

American Conservative: Nuclear Money Pit
A hard look at some of the biggest boondoggles in the nuclear weapons budget.  (11/29/11)

Matthew Leatherman opines, in an article published by the Hill, that congressional committees will try and shift as much funding as they can from DoD’s base budget into the OCO account in order to blunt the impact of sequestration cuts.  (11/23/11)

Reports and Publications:

Office of the Director of National Intelligence: Intelligence Community Directive Number 112
An updated directive for intelligence agencies to keep Congressional intelligence committees “fully and currently informed” on U.S. intel activities.  (11/16/11)

Center for Strategic and International Studies: Keeping Faith: Charting a Sustainable Path for Military Compensation
A recent report by Maren Leads examines the 40 percent cost growth in military compensation over the past decade.   (October 2011)


At 9:00 am on December 7, CSIS is hosting the Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps for a talk on expeditionary force readiness followed by a panel discussion on U.S. ground forces.