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Sequestration Defense Cuts Even Larger than Anticipated

sequestration budget cutsI’ve been hearing so much in the news about sequestration and the fiscal cliff lately, but so much remains up in the air. We know Congress and the President are going to try to work out a deal to avoid these automatic tax increases and budget cuts, and I think we all hope that happens. But so far, I haven’t seen many specifics on what exactly will be cut should the automatic cuts go into effect, until I came across this informative report.

The Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, led by Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA), released a report  providing analysis on sequestration cuts, especially related to defense. Based on their analysis, the total defense budget cuts have increased from $50.5 billion to $60.6 billion. The increase is due to a little-known provision in the Budget Control Act that increased the total cuts if the Congressional Super Committee failed to make a deal. This amounts to a 9.4% reduction in 2013 discretionary defense spending, and an 8.2% decrease in 2013 non-discretionary defense spending.

Congressman Dicks’ report provides a specific blueprint of defense programs they anticipate will be cut should sequestration go into effect. Based on his analysis, these cuts include:

  • $2 billion cut from new military construction projects
  • $5.5 billion cut from military installations
  • $2.4 billion cut from ongoing base operations funds
  • $1.1 billion cut from an account for facility sustainment, renovation and modernization
  • $1 billion cut from Joint Strike Fighter program, including four aircraft – Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor for this project.
  • The Army will lose 8 Blackhawks (Sikorsky), 5 Chinook (Boeing) helicopters and 11 Stryker (General Dynamics) 8-wheel-drive armored vehicles
  • The Navy will lose 3 Super Hornet fighters, 2 Growler (Boeing) electronic warfare variants and one Poseidon long-range patrol plane, plus “at least one” warship
  • The Air Force will lose an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle rocket used for space launches, plus nearly $100 million for new aerial tankers (Boeing) and $33 million from its Next-Generation bomber aircraft
  • $3.7 billion cut from non-exempt accounts used to pay for active-duty and veteran healthcare benefits
  • 3,400 Border Patrol Agents could be let go
  • $1.6 billion cut from the Pentagon’s operations and maintenance accounts
  • $861 million cut from the National Nuclear Safety Administration

Congressman Dicks’ report also details possible economic aspects of these cuts, including an increase in unemployment, estimated to rise to 9.1% should these cuts go into effect. He urges Congress to find a solution, stating “Congress must find a way to replace sequestration with a balanced approach to long-term deficit reduction that focuses on economic growth and job creation, and does no harm to our economic recovery in the short-term.”

There’s no question that the Government needs to cut spending. But let’s hope our elected leaders can work together to make thoughtful cuts where appropriate, instead of automatically slashing programs that may be vital to security and the economy.

 

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