Deputy Defense Secretary calls for delay in automatic cuts
He will get a sympathetic ear from some Republicans on the Hill, but others are of a mind that even national defense must take a hit in the name of sequestration and fiscal sanity.
A senior Pentagon official says automatic budget cuts due to go into effect next month represent "the collateral damage of political gridlock."
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter urged lawmakers Tuesday to put aside their partisan differences and head off the reductions, known as sequestration, and also pass a defense budget for the current fiscal year. Carter called the looming cuts "particularly tragic" because they are avoidable.
The potential for sequestration is the result of Congress' failure to trim the deficit by $1.2 trillion. The Pentagon faces a $46 billion budget cut between March and September. The automatic cuts, which critics say would undermine the military's readiness, would be in addition to a $487 billion reduction in defense spending over the next 10 years, mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act.
This time next month, the howlers will be in full throated glory as sequester bites deep into spending. Many of the complaints will be justified. Many more will not. The White House still refuses to acknowledge that House Republicans have come up with alternative spending cuts far less draconian and more carefully planned. The GOP won't consider the Democrat's demand that more revenue be included in this round of cuts.
In truth, the sequester is a bad idea and both sides should take the face saving idea from the Pentagon and either eliminate the sequester entirely, or push the date back again.