The Pentagon Budget Dilemma

Posted on January 9, 2012. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , |

By Scott Orr

“Our nation is at a moment of transition,” President Obama wrote in introducing his Pentagon budget plan for the coming fiscal year.

The transition the president referred to had to do with the winding down of U.S. operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and the move toward a leaner defense budget. But it also could have referred to an economic transition that will surely follow as the impacts of his planned defense cuts trickle down to contractors, sub-contractors and ultimately, American workers.

“We must put our fiscal house in order here at home and renew our long-term economic strength. To that end, the Budget Control Act of 2011 mandates reductions in federal spending, including defense spending,” Obama wrote.

The plan calls for the Pentagon to cut spending by 10 percent over the next decade and the administration is seeking to move away from preparing for ground wars and toward special ops and advanced technologies. The Army and Marine Corps would shrink the most.

The Pentagon is expected to announce cuts in major weapons systems soon, including delays in Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet, one of the most costly weapons programs ever.

Even as Obama was readying his budget presentation, defense giant Boeing was apparently reading the writing on the wall, announcing it will shut down facilities in Wichita, a move that will cost more than 2,160 jobs and end the company’s generations-long presence in the area.

Protected under the plan are benefits for active and retired military personnel, funding to protect against attacks in cyberspace, and spending on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

Opponents argue that the administration’s cuts would leave the U.S. military ill-prepared to respond to unpredictable future threats while at the same time damaging a huge sector of the American economy.

Backers of cutting defense spending acknowledge it will cost some contractors their biggest customer and many jobs will be lost, but in the long-term it will be less painful than cuts in some other areas like education and transportation.

Once again, the nation is caught in the tug and sway of a timeless predicament: Everyone agrees the budget must be cut, but finding the least painful place for the axe to fall is the problem.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at www.turnergpa.com.

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