Pentagon Seeks to Avoid $1 Trillion Cut
By Jim Cason on 01/02/2012 @ 09:30 AM
Flanked by military leaders, the president this week announced a new U.S. military strategy that Pentagon officials hope will enable them to avoid a full $1 trillion cut in core military spending over the next decade.
The good news is that the Pentagon and the military contractors recognize that they no longer have a blank check. At the press conference in early January, the president acknowledged that the core Pentagon budget has grown at an extraordinary pace and that some reductions were going to be necessary. But minutes latter the president insisted that the Pentagon budget will continue to grow.
The initial headlines from the president's announcement were focused on the war strategy -- a strategy that my colleague Bridget Moix points out is not new and is unlikely to be effective.
But the goal of the president's announcement this week wasn't only to talk war strategy. As Undersecretary of Defense Ashton Carter explained in his own press briefing shortly after the president left the building, one key reason for unveiling a new strategy was to persuade Congress that current legislation which requires Pentagon cuts of up to $1 trillion is "disastrous."
The Pentagon and their allies are gearing up for what could be a year long campaign to persuade Congress not to cut the Pentagon budget so deeply. As the Wall Street Journal and other media have reported, military contractors are particularly worried at possible cuts in Pentagon spending.
Pentagon contractors have good reason to worry. They have a lot to lose. According to the Project on Government Oversight, since 2003 more than half of all spending on U.S. national security has gone to Department of Defense contractors. According to some analysis, the percentage of the Pentagon budget that goes to pay for soldiers is smaller today than it was ten years ago.
What You Can Do
This is where you come in. Our FCNL community, working with state and local elected officials, faith leaders, community groups and the many other people we have already engaged need to stay focused on insisting that the Pentagon budget be cut by at least $1 trillion. If the Pentagon budget isn't cut by at least that much, then Congress could end up cutting the amount of money that goes to state and local governments, efforts to keep children out of poverty and efforts to prevent war.
One place to start is by writing a letter to the editor of your local newspapers explaining why you feel the Pentagon budget can be cut. As my colleague Emily Temple recently pointed out, many people have already been lobbying for these cuts. The challenge in 2012 will be how to continue and expand this effort to ensure that the cuts are made. I look forward to working with all of you to make that happen.