A plan heavily favored by Republican leaders to cut 8 percent of the Pentagon’s budget effective January 2nd now has them scrambling to undo their own handiwork. The effects the military will undergo as a result of the 10-year, $600 billion round of cuts remains unclear, but Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and other legislators have said that the belt-tightening measures, which will rein the defense budget back down to its 2007 level, would force the military to make choices that will effect local communities. “The soft underbelly that I’m trying to exploit is, ‘What does this mean to your state?’” Graham told reporters.
With the first round of cuts starting with the 2013 budget -- which begins on October 1st -- Republicans are warning that the defense cuts could be disastrous. Leading Democrats don't seem to be showing them any mercy, either.
Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, the majority leader, has given no indication that he will undo the cuts without a broader deficit reduction deal that would include revenue increases — and no such negotiations are under way.
Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, the ranking Democrat on the House Budget Committee, said Republicans were given the choice during the debt ceiling negotiations between automatic defense cuts or automatic tax increases in the event that the so-called supercommittee failed to reach a deficit deal. They chose the defense cuts.
“The consistent pattern here is they have chosen to defend special interest tax breaks over defense spending,” Mr. Van Hollen said. “They made that choice.”
Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta is echoing the same dire warnings as the Republicans, especially since the administration has already agreed that the Pentagon will contribute around $450 billion in deficit reduction over the next decade. "Tack on $600 billion more and the impact will be debilitating," Pentagon officials say:
Congress has already been warned that the automatic spending cuts early next year — especially from the Pentagon — could help trigger another recession.
But the $1.2 trillion ax to defense and domestic spending might trigger something else: an election loss.
One study showed that deep defense cuts would cost 1 million jobs nationwide — hitting heavily in California, Virginia and Florida.
Lindsay Graham of South Carolina has been warning his state, which thrives on Pentagon spending, of the impending defense cuts. It seems he may be weakening when it comes to raising taxes...
For now, Democrats and Republicans are waiting for the other side to blink. And the pressure may be working. Mr. Graham said the sentiment for raising revenues by closing tax loopholes or imposing higher fees on items like federal oil leases is expanding in his party.
Asked about the “no new taxes” pledge almost all Republicans have signed, he shrugged: “I’ve crossed the Rubicon on that.”