Fight looming over military spending cuts
July 21st, 2011
05:55 PM ET
10 years ago

Fight looming over military spending cuts

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The raging Washington debate over increasing the debt limit already is foreshadowing perhaps the next budget tussle between the administration and Capitol Hill - a looming fight over cutting military spending.

The Pentagon is the middle of studying how it can meet President Barack Obama's orders to cut $400 billion in spending over the next 12 years - a plan that has raised eyebrows with pro-military Democrat and Republican members of Congress, many of them representing districts with defense contractors or military bases.

Pentagon officials say Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, just days into the job of heading the Pentagon, has been quietly talking to members about the long-term outlook for defense spending cuts. The officials declined to be identified because they are not authorized to speak publicly.

But as part of any deficit-reduction package to accompany raising the debt ceiling, some in Congress are seeing the defense budget as a target-rich environment.

Rep. Buck McKeon, R-California, chairman of the powerful House Armed Services Committee, wrote a memo to his fellow committee Republicans strongly criticizing the so-called Senate "Gang of Six" congressional plan that would result in $886 billion in defense cuts over 10 years.

"It is our belief that this proposal raises serious implications for defense and would not allow us to perform our constitutional responsibility to provide for the safety and security of our country, " he said. McKeon estimates half of those cuts would come from discretionary military spending accounts such as funding of new weapons.

McKeon supports the alternative "cut, cap, and balance" measure that would largely keep defense spending at the president's level.

The watchdog groups Project on Government Oversight and Taxpayers for Common Sense said in a joint statement they have identified $500 billion in deficit reductions "including cuts to wasteful weapons systems, limits on out-of-control contract spending, and reforms to costly entitlement programs."

Their proposed cuts would come from several military programs including cutting some Navy ship construction, halting the purchase of more Army tanks, deferring purchases of a new Air Force bomber and reducing the number of aircraft carriers from 10 to nine.

Filed under: Budget • Deficit • Pentagon
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    When it comes to the Pentagon, the GOP says, "What Deficit"?

    July 21, 2011 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  2. Pam in Oregon

    The Pentagon has been a financial burden for the last 50 years. They are a necessary evil, but it's time to rein them in. Taxes should be raised for the super income 2% American population and it's also the Pentagon's turn.

    Pam in Oregon

    July 21, 2011 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  3. Pam in Oregon

    Correction to Post:

    The Pentagon has been a financial burden for the last 50 years. They are a necessary evil, but it's time to rein them in. Taxes should be raised for the super income 2% American population and it's also the Pentagon's turn for a budget reduction.

    Pam in Oregon

    July 21, 2011 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  4. Jeffer65

    $400 billion is a drop in the bucket. How many $500 hammers is the Pentagon buying these days?

    July 21, 2011 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  5. The Veteran

    You cannot be serious about deficit reduction without cuts in Defense Spending. It is long overdue....

    July 21, 2011 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  6. Randy, San Francisco

    Pentagon better get used to belt tightening. It can no longer rely on the flag waving sunshine patriots in the GOP/Tea Party to support a large defense budget.

    July 21, 2011 06:36 pm at 6:36 pm |
  7. Tom

    Buck McKeon's idea of "constitutional responsibility" to provide for defense, is keeping his California defense contractors in the big bucks.

    July 21, 2011 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  8. Bob Freund

    I would welcome defense spending cuts . Progressives have been saying for decades that wars and defense would break the bank. If we look at the numbers real close well- it turns out to be true.

    July 21, 2011 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  9. lynn

    Lets fire more teachers. With the huge savings from those bloated teacher salaries, we could double our military. Get those space jockeys back into business at same time, blast that money off into space.

    July 21, 2011 07:27 pm at 7:27 pm |
  10. Ramrod

    It is quite simple. Reduce the budget. Period. Let the Pentagon big-shots figure out the details.

    July 21, 2011 07:28 pm at 7:28 pm |

    Mr. Boehner is supposedly for cutting wasteful spending. The frigging ARMY says that they have more than enough M1A1 tanks [which happen to be built in Boehner's district]. But guess what, Mr. Boehner wants to OVERIDE the Pentagon, the people that know best and continue to have these tanks built. He has ZERO credibility – cut everybody elses spending but leave mine alone.

    Beyond Boehner, the DOD's budget is like $720 BILLION this year and in just the past 10 years is has almost DOUBLED. Tell me what other SPENDING has DOUBLED over this period? If we had frozen spending at 2001 levels we'd have saved TRILLIONS!

    So that we are clear, everyone should understand that extra spending was covered by borrowing money from China. It is part of the $14.3T National Debt that the Republicans are now trying to hang around Obama's neck.

    I really don't want to hear anymore BS from the Republicans about "America's defense". You guys talk a good game but can't execute for $ _ _ + It was Obama that got Osama, not the paper tigers that talk tough. The gravy train for your Blackwater buddies is over. They've gotten rich enough from this GOP backed SPENDING.

    July 21, 2011 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  12. Dean

    Close foreign bases or make host countries pay the cost.

    July 21, 2011 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  13. DB

    ABOUT DAMN TIME.. I'm all about keeping the country protected against external threats and such, but the DoD is probably one of the biggest reasons why we're in this debt crisis. The Military should be downsized. We do not need to maintain 737 military bases in foreign nations. This is a waste. We spend more on the military than every other country in the world put together? And for what? The war in IRAQ was illegal and had no point – there were no WMAD's, the country is still a mess and our oil is no cheaper. The war in in Afghanistan was to find OBL. We basically spent 10 years of our armed forces resources searching for ONE MAN – and we made Al Qaeda stronger in the process. Contractors are feasting off our taxpayer dollars. What are we so afraid of as a country? We spend so much to protect a country that we aren't even investing in! It totally frustrates me that our infrastructure and education systems are crumbling and we've lost the will and capacity to innovate. So I'm happy that at least the conversation is being had with regards to military spending because it seriously needs to be cut for our own survival as a nation.

    July 21, 2011 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  14. The Greedy Old Pigs are mostly nutty neocons

    Keep an eye on this one. Wall St. ended up driving America into the ground and then got rewarded for it. The military-industrial complex will be just as resistant, if not more. While many of the GOBPbaggers are neocon nutjobs, I welcome any decent Republican willing to acknowledge our military is grossly oversized. We don't need it, we can't afford it, and America has no business being the world's policeman or providing bodyguards for Big Oil.

    July 21, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  15. needNewGov

    cut! cut! cut! Our biggest threat today is some clod in jerkistan somewhere hacking into our power grid and throwing us back into the dark ages. Why do we need billions of dollars on new weapon systems when we have drones and cruise missiles to take him out?

    July 21, 2011 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  16. Ron

    The Pentagon could cut $400 Billion in a week, but who is going to willingly give up all that free money – certainly not those that have all the guns.

    July 21, 2011 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  17. Salty Bob

    Leave th millitary alone and let them defed this country from all whom wish us harm. Their are too many enemies poised to strick us form any direction remeber that when you start your cuts.

    July 21, 2011 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |