Defense Tech waxes optimistic:
Automatic, “salami slice” cuts to Pentagon budgets may be unlikely despite recent predictions of fiscal doom for the Defense Department should the Congressional supercommittee fail to reach an agreement on debt reduction by next week.
First off, supercommittee Chairman, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Tx.) has come out and said that Congress will likely find a way to avoid salami slice cuts across the government, and especially the DoD, if no agreement is reached.
Here’s what he told CNBC Tuesday night:
a lot of people don’t realize $1.2 trillion of deficit reduction is going to happen anyway. We’d prefer to do it in a smarter fashion. And the 1.2, frankly, half of that is aimed at national security. Leon Panetta, our secretary of defense, says that will hollow out our defense. So, number one, I would be committed to keeping the 1.2. We’ve got 13 months to find a smarter way to do it. I think the cuts that are aimed at defense, frankly, go too far. But this is one–this is a very important point that you make. You know, if the 1.5 isn’t met, there’s a 1.2 backstop right there.
That year’s worth of wiggle room Hensarling refers to is the fact that the auto cuts, called sequestration, won’t go into effect until 2013. As the Congressman said, this gives lawmakers plenty of time to rework any budget cuts.
(Keep in mind that Hensarling isn’t the only one on the Hill who wants to avoid accross the board cuts to defense coffers.)
(UPDATE:) Todd Harrison, a military budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments – a think tank whose ideas often find their way into the highest levels of the Pentagon — predicts that Congress will de-fang the threat posed by sequestration.