Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Waging war over Pentagon budget cuts

Pentagon budget combatants traded blows Tuesday, with one faction warning of 1 million lost jobs and another arguing that strategic cuts will not damage the world’s most lethal military.

The dueling assessments offered a glimpse of the closing arguments each side will make to the congressional supercommittee that has been tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in deficit cuts by Thanksgiving.

On one side are the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW). Those organizations are lobbying hard against further defense budget cuts and released a report Tuesday conducted by a George Mason University economist that concluded more reductions could push the U.S. economy into a recession.

Firing from the other side is the Project on Defense Alternatives (PDA), which unveiled its own report that concluded “modest changes” to how the military does its work and to its missions would produce big savings while keeping national security strong.

If the supercommittee fails, automatic federal spending cuts would be triggered, including a national-security cut of about $600 billion. When added to the $350 billion in defense cuts set in motion by the August debt deal, the total cut would approach $1 trillion over a decade.