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Right-Wing Hawks, Arms Industry Rally Against Pentagon Cuts

Jim Lobe
Inter Press Service / News Analysis
Published: Friday 20 July 2012
“At stake is could be as much as 600 billion dollars in Pentagon funding – much of which would presumably be spent on lucrative procurement contracts for new weapons systems – over the next 10 years, as well as what the hawks see as the further erosion of U.S. global military dominance.”
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While Iran, Russia, and China are all pretty scary, the ominous word “sequestration” is what is keeping right-wing hawks and their friends in the defense industry up at night.

While they have been rallying their forces for most of the past year, their campaign to avoid the “specter of sequestration”, as they often refer to it, shifted into high gear on Capitol Hill this week, as top industry executives were summoned to testify to the urgency of the threat.

At stake is could be as much as 600 billion dollars in Pentagon funding – much of which would presumably be spent on lucrative procurement contracts for new weapons systems – over the next 10 years, as well as what the hawks see as the further erosion of U.S. global military dominance.

“It is clear that if the process of sequestration is fully implemented,” warned three of the right’s most hawkish think tanks – the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Heritage Foundation, and the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) – in a joint statement entitled “Defending Defense” last week, “the U.S. military will lack adequate resources to defend the United States and its global interests.”

“The specter of sequestration threatens the U.S. defense industrial base at a time when China, Russia, and other military competitors are ramping up their defense industries,” according to the statement, which helped raise the curtain on this week’s mantra from the military-industrial complex: hundreds of thousands of workers could lose their jobs as early as October – one month before the election – unless the sequestration nightmare goes away.

The sequestration specter arises from a 2011 agreement, codified in the Budget Control Act, between President Barack Obama and Republican Congressional leaders for cutting the yawning U.S. federal deficit over the next decade.

The Act provides that if Congress cannot agree on a specific plan that would cut 1.2 trillion dollars in the budget by the end of this year, then the cuts would take place automatically beginning in 2013, with half of the total taken from the Pentagon and the rest from non-defense programs.

The Act was designed to spur both parties to compromise, since Republicans have generally been adamantly opposed to cuts in the defense budget, while Democrats have no less vehemently tried to protect favored social, educational, and health programs from the budget ax.

A so-called super-committee of lawmakers from both parties was created to forge such a compromise, but their positions proved irreconcilable. Backed by the White House, Democrats demanded that deficit reduction be achieved, at least in part, by raising taxes on the wealthy, while Republicans rejected such an approach out of hand.

While most observers believed that a compromise would eventually be worked out, the approach of the November elections has resulted in both parties digging in, and sequestration now looms as a distinct possibility.

At 645 billion dollars this year, the U.S. defense budget far exceeds those of the 20 next-most-powerful countries and accounts altogether for about 40 percent of global military spending. Despite the lack of a peer competitor, the Pentagon’s budget has nearly doubled over the past decade.

While China’s defense budget has been rising at a faster rate in recent years, it is believed to amount to no more than a third of what Washington spends.

Nonetheless, hawks have long argued for increases in the Pentagon’s budget and last year strongly denounced Obama’s order to cut more than 450 billion dollars in previously planned defense spending over the next decade as part of a larger strategy to reduce the deficit.

Even Pentagon chief Leon Panetta has warned that an additional 600-billion-dollar reduction resulting from sequestration would be “devastating” to Washington’s ability to protect its national interests overseas, although it remains unclear whether he sincerely believes that or whether he is using it to push the Republicans toward compromise. Some Republicans have charged that Obama himself would not be displeased if the sequestration took effect.

Given the importance of the economy and unemployment in the November election, Republicans have increasingly tried to focus attention on the possible job losses resulting from sequestration and enlisted the major arms manufacturers – which increased their spending on lobbying in Washington by an average of nearly 12 percent during the first quarter of this year, according to ‘Defense News’ – in their cause.

Last month, the chief executive of the Pentagon’s biggest contractor, Lockheed Martin Corp., warned that additional cuts would be a “blunt force trauma” to the industry. He noted that his company’s workforce was already 18 percent smaller than three years ago due to a slowdown in the rise in the defense budget under Obama.

Earlier this week, the Aerospace Industries Association produced a study that estimated job losses due to the sequestration cuts would result in the loss of nearly 1.1 million jobs in the defense sector next year.

And on Wednesday, the hawkish chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, hosted the CEOs of four major defense contractors in a hearing designed to underline the threat of mass lay-offs, with notices to workers going out as early as Oct. 1.

But both the administration and Congressional Democrats are insisting that the Republicans compromise on taxes. Indeed, one Democratic congressman from Georgia, Rep. Hank Johnson, noted the irony of Republicans “holding hearings to talk about how reduced government spending would hurt jobs and the economy”.

According to Politico, Johnson asked the four whether they would be personally willing to pay more taxes as part of a deal to avoid sequestration but received no answer.

Recent survey data suggest that the public generally favors the Democratic position. According to one detailed poll released here Monday by worldpublicopinion.org, a strong majority of respondents, including those from Congressional districts represented by Republicans, favor substantial cuts to the defense budget – by an average of 18 percent from its current level.

The survey, which was carried out in April, found some partisan differences. Respondents in Republican districts on average favored cuts by 15 percent, while Democratic districts wanted to cut by 22 percent, according to the survey, which was sponsored by the Program for Public Consultation, the Stimson Center, and the Center for Public Integrity.

Particularly remarkable was the finding that respondents living in districts benefiting from the highest level of defense-related spending were just as likely to support cuts as districts which benefited relatively little.



From the article: “It is

From the article: “It is clear that if the process of sequestration is fully implemented,” warned three of the right’s most hawkish think tanks – the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the Heritage Foundation, and the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) – in a joint statement entitled “Defending Defense” last week, “the U.S. military will lack adequate resources to defend the United States and its global interests.”

That last sentence should read "the U.S. military will lack adequate resources to defend the the 1% and its global interests.”

First, and foremost, we need

First, and foremost, we need to understand that Repubilicans only care about the deficit and the debt when they are not in power. Once they regain power, the debt ceases to be a problem. (Ask Dick Cheney) Reagan tripled the federal debt by first cutting taxes and then engaging in the largest peacetime military buildup ever. It culminated with the nonsense called "starwars' SDI. Once Clinton was elected, the deficit became a serious problem. Skipping to George W., we again find that the deficit was not important. He cut taxes twice, established a perscription drug plan for seniors without paying for it.( Oh, BTW, it was designed mostly to benefit the drug companies and the insurance companies. Seniors were the excuse.) and started two ill-advised and un-necessary wars. In the process he doubled the federal debt. Then left office with the nations economy in a freefall. Now cometh Barack Obama and the deficit and the debt are instantly a huge problem again. Let's stop giving credence to this false argument. Correcting the debt situation is not that difficult, just grow the economy. More on that at a later time.

OK, on to the defense budget. We all agree that the DOD expenditures are way out of line with the country's needs. Originally, it was called the "War Department" but that didn't sound so good in the modern world wo we changed the name.. We appparently we didn't change the mission. So one must ask a few serious questions. How many $11 billion aircraft carriers do we really need? We have a dozen and nobody else has any. Why do we need F35 Strike Fighters that cost twice what was planned and don't work as designed? Now that drones are all the rage, who needs manned fighter planes at $4 billion a pop? Must we continue to maintain an army designed to fight a World War II style land war when such a war is now impossible? There is no question that the nation must maintain adequate defense forces to protect our interests from military attack throughout the world, but when considering the potential threats, today's U.S.military force is simply overkill. Plus, there is the simple truth that the major threat we face, terrorism, is the one area where huge military forces are useless. We have seen several examples of that truth in recent years. So what is the excuse for these enormous forces? As stated by others, it's the money. But what if we took, say, $200 billion per year from DOD and spent it on infrastructure improvements, schools, research and, dare I say, enviromental concerns? Would we be able to create more jobs, more new businesses, more college educated workers, more doctors, more scientists and more green technologies before we totally destroy our planet? I think so.

As long as this country

As long as this country continues to protect and expand the military establishment, the American economy will lag behind. We will continue to exert our power through the sword rather than through the word. Many empires have fallen that way. It is time we put our destructive toys away and grow up by practicing what we preach, strengthening our diplomatic corp, and inspiring hope instead of paranoia

Hey right wing Republican

Hey right wing Republican chickenhawks!

I thought the government didn't create jobs! You fucking assholes....

We spend way too much on our

We spend way too much on our military. That is big part of our deficit .
We spend about as much on our military as the rest of the world combined.

"Particularly remarkable was

"Particularly remarkable was the finding that respondents living in districts benefiting from the highest level of defense-related spending were just as likely to support cuts as districts which benefited relatively little."

A very promising revelation. Could it be that Americans are finally waking up and taking issues to task that have formerly been the exclusive venue of wealthy military contractors and the war hawks that continuously infest our system. We have a reputation in this country for waiting until the union is on the verge of complete collapse before we take any real action. I can only hope that this is the case in this instance and that we haven’t waited too long this time !

I spent 6 years working in the defense industry after my military service in Viet Nam. These facilities have long been strategically placed in several areas of the country in an attempt to secure diverse Congressional support for their continued existence. Rarely if ever do total employment numbers in this industry even come close to the bulk of local private industry jobs that are available in any of these communities. The salaries and benefits are usually far above the average paid by local private businesses but the longevity of these positions tends to be tied directly to the actions of Congress. This is the reason I left this industry in early 1970 after 6 years of never knowing If I would have a job the following week. I worked with career defense employees that had been in this industry for 30 years and more and simply endured the peace time periods by working at local low pay jobs until the next war signaled the reemergence of the good times. Local employers knew these people would leave in a New York Minute when the local defense plant got a new contract so there was no real effort to offer them career advancement.

"Particularly remarkable was

"Particularly remarkable was the finding that respondents living in districts benefiting from the highest level of defense-related spending were just as likely to support cuts as districts which benefited relatively little."

Not surprising. The reality is that war related industries and installations are economic DRAINS...even locally. They're like heroin -- one little kick then a life of misery!

"Leon Panetta has warned that

"Leon Panetta has warned that an additional 600-billion-dollar reduction resulting from sequestration would be “devastating” to Washington’s ability to protect its national interests overseas"

Only if you admit that the "national interests" concerned are the offshore bank accounts of the war profiteers.

Slashing the USAmerican Imperial War Budget would result in creating fewer terrorists around the Earth, would give impetus for other nations to cut their war budgets and provide funds to create a healthier environment here and around the world. (Google: Lester Brown Plan-B)

End the disgusting, phony 'Permanent War Economy(tm)' -- or else...'cause it's the major drag on what passes for an 'economy' in USAmerica...and, to paraphrase Khrushchev, "Will Bury You!"

. . . to paraphrase

. . . to paraphrase Khrushchev, "We Will Bury You !"

Even though that statement was made in the 1950s by an official of a now non-existent communist government, the promise remains as long as we choose to act irresponsibly on the world stage. After all, we are far from being the only dominant country now with significant economic power, burying us now is just a matter of canceling our Dollar as the world's only reserve currency which a significant number of powerful Asian countries have already done; Game Over !

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