Friday, December 9, 2011

12/7/11 RD Bulletin: DoD Budget Request Ignores Sequestration

State of Play

Legislative: House and Senate appropriators are preparing a $900 billion nine-bill omnibus appropriations measure, which they hope to have completed by December 16 in order to avoid having to pass another Continuing Resolution.  However, the White House has warned that it will veto the omnibus measure if it goes below spending levels agreed to in the Budget Control Act or if it has too many controversial policy riders attached.  Following comments by the head of the Joint Strike Fighter program that inferred the program’s development would be delayed due to “hot spots” discovered in the aircraft, SASC Ranking Member John McCain (R-AZ) took to the Senate Floor this week to blast the expensive aircraft arguing that it was a “scandal” and a “tragedy.”  Lawmakers had been considering using savings from ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to pay for an  year-end Medicare “doc fix,” however that plan appears to have been scrapped.  And SASC Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) has backed off a plan to move, as a standalone bill, a package of noncontroversial amendments to the defense authorization bill that were blocked from consideration during debate on the Senate Floor. 

Executive: Last week, Secretary Panetta met with the combatant commanders in Washington to go over the Pentagon’s upcoming strategy review which will propose saving $450 billion from the President’s budget request over ten years.  GE and Rolls Royce have announced that they will stop self-funding development of the alternative engine for the F-35 JSF, which had come under fire from former Secretary Robert Gates and some lawmakers.  This likely spells the end for the controversial engine program.  A top Air Force official says that the F-35 is still not ready for training due to continuing risks associated with the plane.  With Pakistan having closed NATO supply routes into Afghanistan following a deadly airstrike on its troops, the United States will have to air-drop fuel supplies into the country at a cost of $400 per gallon.   According to Defense News, the Army will not protest cancellation of the C-27J cargo plane if the Air Force decides to terminate the joint program. 


Businessweek: Obama Administration Urges Flat 2013-2017 Defense Spending Plan
Tony Capaccio previews the administration’s upcoming five-year budget request, which endorses the Navy’s recommendation to delay construction of the second Gerald Ford-class aircraft carrier.  (12/7/11)

The Hill: Automatic Cuts Could Drive Smaller Defense Industry Firms Out of Business
In an article covering defense firms, Charles Knight predicts that the sequester will not occur because it was designed to be so unpalatable that Congress would avoid it at all costs.  (12/5/11)

Huffington Post:
The High Price of Nukes: Weapons We Don’t Need at a Cost We Can’t Afford
Bill Hartung questions why the United States maintains a nuclear weapons arsenal designed to combat a threat that no longer exists on a budget that is unknown.  (12/2/11)

National Interest: Questions About Nuclear Weapons
With the U.S. nuclear arsenal dropping from a historic high of 31,255 warheads to an arsenal of 1,500 as required by the New Start Treaty, Christopher Preble asks why we must retain the expensive nuclear triad.  (12/2/11)

Other News and Commentary

The Hill:
The Pentagon’s Ever-Growing Budget-Cut Estimate Now At $492
John Bennett charts the evolution of Obama Administration’s endorsed DoD cuts, which initially were reported to be $350 billion – but that number has now grown to $492 billion.  (12/5/11)

Washington Post: We’re Past Due on Handling the Finances of War
Walter Pincus discusses the idea of instituting a special war-tax to help pay the costs of overseas contingency operations.  (12/5/11)

Dod Buzz: The Pentagon’s Ostrich Strategy
The Pentagon may only be budgeting for $460 billion in cuts because it wants to show lawmakers how deep those reductions are already going in hopes that sequestration will be prevented.  (12/5/11)

Study: Funding Progressive Domestic Priorities Creates At Least 50 Percent More Jobs Than Military Spending
Ali Gharib covers the ongoing debate over defense job creation and the updated report from UMASS.  (12/5/11)

If Anything, $700 Billion Underestimates U.S. Nuke Spending in Next Decade
Bruce Blair reports on the Ploughshares Fund’s estimate that the U.S. spends $700 billion on nuclear weapons and finds that the estimate is actually “conservative.”   (12/5/11)

Defense News:
Panetta to Discuss DoD Review in January
In January, Sec. Panetta will discuss the Pentagon’s forthcoming strategy review, which will make recommendations on achieving $450 billion in savings relative to the President’s budget request.   (12/2/11)

AOL Defense: OMB, DoD Agree on $523B 2013 Budget; Budget Chicken Begins
OMB has leaked the President’s top line defense budget request numbers for the next five years, which do not reflect sequestration cuts.  (12/2/11)

The Blaster:
Pentagon Maneuvers to Trump the Budget Sequester
Chuck Spinney argues that, in order to keep defense budgets high, defense hawks need a cold war enemy, and they’ve found one in the People’s Republic of China.  (12/2/11)

Army Times: White House Unveils 2013 Defense Budget Plan
The White House will request $523.42 billion for the Pentagon in FY13, "a combined one-year reduction of about $47 billion in the base budget."  (12/2/11)

Reports and Publications:

Center for a New American Security: The Next Fight: Time for a Change of Mission in Afghanistan
A group of security analysts at CNAS recommend that the Obama Administration shift its strategy in Afghanistan from a counter-insurgency mission to an advisory role by October 2012.  (December 2011)

American Enterprise Institute: Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran
AEI poses the question: “What happens if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon,” in a report published this week.  (December 2011)

The Heritage Foundation: Super Committee Failure and Sequestration Put At Risk Ever More Military Plans and Programs
A new report from the Heritage Foundation argues that the debt crisis can only be solved through cuts to entitlement programs because “cutting defense will only marginally reduce the budget deficit while possibly increasing the risk to our national security.”  (12/5/11)