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Entries in defense spending cuts (6)

Wednesday
Dec052012

Pentagon Begins Planning for $500B in ‘Fiscal Cliff’ Cuts

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Pentagon has started to plan for the half-trillion dollars in automatic cuts over the next decade that it could face as part of the “fiscal cliff” that would start in the new year.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) had provided guidance that the Pentagon should conduct “internal planning” for sequestration cuts, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters Wednesday.

Sequestration is the term used to describe the automatic defense budget cuts totaling about $500 billion over the next 10 years that would be triggered in early January. The sequestration cuts were agreed to as part of last year’s debt ceiling agreement that resulted in the Budget Control Act.  It is one component of the coming “fiscal cliff” of spending cuts and tax increases that would be triggered in 2013 that has dominated the political debate in Washington since the presidential election.

For most of the year, Pentagon officials have said repeatedly that they would not plan for potential sequestration cuts because they hoped it would just be done away with by the Congress. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been vocal about what he has called the “devastating” impact of the automatic cuts if they were triggered. He once referred to it as a “goofy, meat-axe approach” to reducing spending.

Eventually, any resolution of the pending sequestration cuts were delayed until after the presidential election. Now, with the deadline looming, the Pentagon has been authorized to look at what programs might be cut.

“We don’t want to go off the fiscal cliff, but in consultation with OMB we think that it is prudent at this stage to begin at least some limited internal planning,” said Little.

A preliminary review began earlier this week to determine what would be impacted by cuts that will trim 9.4 percent from Defense Department programs, Little said. The review will prevent implementing sequestration in “an absurd way” within the Pentagon, he added.

The estimated $500 billion in cuts over the next decade would be in addition to the administration’s already planned cut of $487 billion over the next decade that it said was guided by a strategic review.  Fifty-five billion dollars in defense cuts would be triggered in 2013.

On July 31, the Obama administration issued a memo announcing that military personnel payroll costs would not be affected by sequestration cuts.  At the time, it acknowledged, “it is recognized that this action would increase the sequester in other defense programs,” namely in civilian personnel costs and weapons programs.

Little said he was activating a public affairs task force that would help communicate to the DOD’s 3 million military and civilian employees about the latest updates on any potential cuts.

Though sequestration could begin on Jan. 3, 2013, Little said, its impact would not be felt immediately on the workforce. The Pentagon would have a phased-in approach to the cuts that would likely be implemented in the months after that date should no deal be reached to avoid sequestration.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Sep142012

White House Details Looming ‘Doomsday’ Budget Cuts

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration Friday laid out on paper -- 400 pages of it -- the details of $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts that would take effect at the end of the year unless Congress strikes a deal.  The picture is not pretty.

Billions of dollars would be slashed from defense operations and maintenance programs, says the administration.  Medicare would take a two-percent hit, trimming millions in payouts to health care providers. Scientific research programs would be gutted. Aid for the poor and needy would be sharply curtailed.

More than a billion dollars would even be wiped from the State Department’s diplomatic and consular program, including $127 million for embassy security, construction and maintenance and $2 million for the protection of foreign missions and officials, according to the document.

“The report leaves no question that the sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments and core government functions,” the administration writes in the report, which was submitted to Congress as required by law.

“Sequestration” is the technical name for the across-the-board spending cuts that were agreed to by bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress last year as a penalty for failing to achieve a deficit reduction plan.  They take effect on Jan. 2, 2013, unless lawmakers come up with a different plan totaling $1.2 trillion.

“It was intended to drive both sides to compromise, it was never intended to be implemented,” a senior administration official said.

In releasing the report the White House emphasized that it had no discretion in deciding what programs would be cut or by how much.  Those details were specified by lawmakers as part of the debt ceiling deal reached last year, officials said.

However, the document immediately provided fresh political fodder for Republicans, who have accused Obama and Democrats of being willing to stomach the deep cuts.  The critics do not mention, however, that many Republicans also voted for the plan, including House Speaker John Boehner and GOP vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan.

“This report confirms that the president’s ‘sequester’ is a serious threat to our national security and must be replaced,” Boehner said in a statement. “But with only a few months before they’re scheduled to go into effect, President Obama and Senate Democrats have taken no action whatsoever to avert these cuts.”

House Republicans have passed a measure to avoid the drastic cuts, but Democrats have balked because their plan includes no new revenue (tax increases). To resolve the standoff, both sides will need to compromise on taxes.

“I want to be very clear that the administration does not support the indiscriminate, across the board cuts detailed in this report,” a senior administration official said. “We believe, the administration believes, that these cuts should never be implemented.”

Should lawmakers fail to reach a deal, some budget items will be spared: Veterans benefits, military personnel, and salaries for members of Congress, among other exempt categories.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug242012

Paul Ryan Criticizes Obama on Defense Cuts

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(FAYETTEVILLE, N.C.) -- At a defense roundtable in the town that’s home to Fort Bragg, Paul Ryan spoke out against the looming $500 billion defense cuts, saying the president needed to explain how automatic, across-the-board cuts to the defense budget would affect military jobs and defense contracts.

“Put up or shut up,” Ryan said, addressing the budget cuts.  “The president needs to show us how he plans on putting this in place if he is not going to help us pass legislation preventing it in the first place.”

Ryan, the House Budget chairman, originally voted for legislation that included the cuts, known as sequestration, and praised them at the time.  But on Thursday, his spokesperson Michael Steel said what Ryan voted for was “bipartisan deficit reduction.”

“The president instead went AWOL on the campaign trail and the result is the devastating defense cuts that the president insisted on,” Steel said after the roundtable.

Ryan said in a Romney-Ryan administration they would make sure the cuts “will not happen.”

“We believe in the doctrine of peace through strength,” Ryan said.  “Strength means having strong national defense, and that is why we are steadfastly opposed to the president’s reckless and devastating defense cuts.”

The vice presidential candidate has simplified the reasons behind the cuts on the campaign trail, which are part of a political battle that began brewing last summer.  They are mandated by the Budget Control Act, which was signed into law last August by President Obama in exchange for a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit.

House Speaker John Boehner insisted that any increase in the debt limit be matched dollar-for-dollar in spending cuts and reforms, but as the federal government ran critically low on cash, Congress had only agreed to about $1.2 trillion in savings.  Still, the debt limit was increased under an agreement that called on a “supercommittee” to negotiate an additional $1.2 trillion in savings, or face sequestration -- meaning the automatic cuts that include those defense cuts and items unpalatable to each party.

After the supercommittee failed to strike a deal, the country was left with sequestration.  The Obama administration, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, has warned what the cuts would mean for the military.

North Carolina has a $23 billion defense industry, and the roundtable was held at the Partnership for Defense Innovation, a tax-exempt nonprofit that promotes economic development.  There were military families onhand, including a gold star mother as well as Rep. Renee Ellmers (R-N.C.).

Ryan tried to personalize what the cuts would mean for members in the audience.

“Only in America do you have young people like this who are inspired by the ideals of our country and who have this pathway.  And in this case, a pathway out of poverty and into a life of self-discipline, of self-sufficiency, of pride.  It’s amazing what this does for our culture.  Not to mention our strength as a country,” he said.

The Obama administration almost immediately responded to the event, saying Ryan wasn’t “serious about avoiding the automatic defense cuts” and if he were, “he’d tell Mitt Romney and his fellow Republicans in Congress to work with the president to achieve balanced deficit reduction that includes asking millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share -- as the plan President Obama has put forward does.”

“But he’s not.  In fact, Congressman Ryan voted for the agreement he criticized today, and he walked away from a balanced deficit reduction plan last summer because he thought it would help the President’s re-election prospects.  And Mitt Romney himself has said that he didn’t want Congress to act, despite looming defense cuts. Congressman Ryan and Mitt Romney should show some leadership to avoid these cuts instead of using our military budget to score a political point,” Obama spokesperson Danny Kanner said in a statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Aug212012

Paul Ryan Blasts the President for Defense Cuts

Steve Pope/Getty Images(WEST CHESTER, Pa.) -- Standing next to two Sikorski helicopters, Paul Ryan had the perfect setting to talk about the looming issue of $500 billion in defense cuts, also known as sequestration, blaming the president for the cuts.

“President Obama’s reckless defense cuts that are hanging over our cloud, hanging over the horizon, could put almost 44,000 jobs at stake right here in Pennsylvania. We are not going to let that happen,” Ryan said to thousands of people at the American Helicopter Museum.

Ryan cited his Pennsylvania colleagues in Congress as well as “national defense” being “the first priority of the federal government” as reasons sequestration won’t happen.

“We already passed spending cuts and other wasteful parts of government to replace those irresponsible and devastating cuts of the president through his lack of leadership … ” Ryan said. "You see, here is what happens. When these budget negotiations went down the pike, the president insisted that these irresponsible defense cuts be a part of this package. Then, he insisted if you want to undo them, we need a trillion dollar tax increase on successful small businesses. So you either lose defense jobs in Pennsylvania or put small businesses further in a competitive disadvantage to compete in the global economy and lose small business jobs."

“I’ve got a good idea,” he added. “Why don’t we take away President Obama’s job and create jobs for everybody no matter what industry they are in? That’s a good stimulus project.”

The vice presidential candidate simplified the reasons behind the cuts, which are part of a political battle that began brewing last summer. They are mandated by the Budget Control Act, which was signed into law last August by President Obama in exchange for a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit.

House Speaker John Boehner insisted that any increase in the debt limit be matched dollar-for-dollar in spending cuts and reforms, but as the federal government ran critically low on cash, Congress had only agreed to about $1.2 trillion in savings. Still, the debt limit was increased under an agreement that called on a “supercommittee” to negotiate an additional $1.2 trillion in savings, or face sequestration -- meaning the automatic cuts that include those defense cuts and items unpalatable to each party.

After the supercommittee failed to strike a deal, the country was left with sequestration. The Obama administration, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, has warned what the cuts would mean for the military.

Romney has also hit the president over the cuts on the campaign trail.

Dressed in a blue polo shirt and khakis, Ryan also struck a populist tone at the rally, hitting both Republicans and Democrats while talking about the “you didn’t build that” line of attack that has been the Republicans’ focus since the president uttered the words last month in reference to government help for small businesses.

“It reveals this side of a government-centered society, of an economy driven by government; it reveals this idea that we need to tax more money from families and small business,” Ryan said. “Take that money to Washington and then spread it around to your cronies. … Look, Republicans have been guilty of this in the past, as well. Let’s not forget that both political parties touched this idea of getting Washington to pick winners and losers in the economy.”

Pennsylvania hasn’t voted for a Republican presidential candidate since 1988, but the GOP is hoping to turn the state red in November. Ryan spent the day campaigning in West Chester and Carnegie, Pa.

Ryan will hold a fundraiser in the heavily Democratic city of Philadelphia Tuesday evening.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Aug172012

Paul Ryan Accuses Obama of ‘Devastating’ Defense Cuts

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(SPRINGFIELD, Va.) -- In this battleground state where defense is an essential part of the economy, Paul Ryan brought up the looming issue of $500 billion in defense cuts, also known as sequestration, for the first time since he joined Mitt Romney’s ticket. He accused the president of being behind the “devastating cuts.”

“Now there’s one thing we’re going to have to deal with to make sure we protect jobs in Virginia and around America,” Ryan said. “And that is these devastating defense cuts that president Obama is promising. That is the lack of leadership that he is providing. They call it sequester and all of that. Well, I tell you what. In the House, we already passed the bill to cut spending in other areas of government to make sure that these devastating cuts to defense never occur so we don’t put Virginians out of work and so we have a strong national defense. That’s extremely important.”

The cuts are part of a political battle that started last summer. They are mandated by the Budget Control Act, which was signed into law last August by President Obama in exchange for a $2.4 trillion increase in the debt limit.

House Speaker John Boehner had insisted that any increase in the debt limit be matched dollar-for-dollar in spending cuts and reforms, but as the federal government ran critically low on cash, Congress had only agreed to about $1.2 trillion in savings. Still, the debt limit was increased under an agreement which called on a “Supercommittee” to negotiate an additional $1.2 trillion in savings, or face sequestration (i.e., automatic cuts).

After the committee failed to strike a deal, the country was left with sequestration. The Obama administration, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, have warned what the cuts would mean for the military, but Romney has also hit the president over the cuts on the campaign trail.

The cuts would mean about $500 billion to defense and about $500 billion to entitlements or social programs. Ryan said the budget slashing could also affect the country’s national security, which he called the “first responsibility of our federal government.”

“And one of the critical means and needs for a strong national defense is because the world needs America’s leadership,” Ryan said. “In the past day, Iran’s president called our ally Israel, quote, a cancerous tumor that must be excised. Let me be really clear. Under President Romney, our adversaries will think twice about challenging America and our allies because we believe in peace through strength. There will be no daylight between America and our friends around the world. Strong national defense, peace through strength, strong relationship with our allies.”

In state-organized protests Friday, Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did call Israel a “cancerous tumor.”

“You want a new Middle East? We do too, but in the new Middle East … there will be no trace of the American presence and the Zionists,” Ahmadinejad said at Tehran University.

Earlier Friday, Romney put out a statement calling the comments “outrageous” and saying America has to “lead the world” in stopping Iran from “obtaining nuclear weapons capability.”

After not mentioning it on the stump at his earlier event in Glen Allen, Virginia Friday, Ryan brought back the issue of Medicare -- one that will undoubtedly trail him throughout the campaign -- accusing the president of treating the program “like a piggy bank.”

“We want this debate on Medicare,” Ryan told the cheering crowd of hundreds in a high school gym. “We want this debate, we need this debate and we are going to win this debate. I’ll tell you why. There’s only one on Medicare, only one person who treated Medicare like a piggy bank, and that’s President Obama, who took $716 billion from that program to create Obamacare, and that affects current seniors, and his campaign calls this an achievement.

“Do you think raiding Medicare to pay for Obamacare is an achievement?” he asked. “Why don’t we just get rid of Obamacare altogether?”

Ryan actually endorsed the same cuts in his signature budget plan, the same plan Romney has said he would sign if he became president. Ryan says he was forced to build his plan on those cuts because they were signed into law and he had to base his plan off of what was already current law.

The $716 billion in cuts do not affect benefits for today’s seniors. Instead, they reduce provider reimbursements and curb waste, fraud and abuse. Ryan’s own plan has come under attack by Democrats because it would fundamentally change the plan making it a voucher program that could cost senior citizens more.  Ryan says his plan is the only way to save Medicare from going completely bankrupt.

It’s a complex discussion, something the new vice presidential candidate will focus on Saturday when he travels to the world’s largest retirement community, The Villages, in central Florida. He will be accompanied by his 78-year-old mother, Betty Douglas.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Jul122012

Romney Camp Hits Obama on Defense Cuts Made by Congressional Deal

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Romney campaign blasted the president Thursday for looming cuts to defense spending. Some of the cuts are required by last summer’s congressional deal to cut spending in exchange for increasing the federal debt ceiling.

The blast happened on a Romney campaign conference call this morning meant to “welcome” President Obama to Virginia when he visits the state on Friday. Campaign surrogate and former Missouri Senator Jim Talent was joined by Virginia representative J. Randy Forbes and former Navy secretary John Lehman in taking the president to task for cuts to defense and explaining how that will hurt Virginia. Talent called the cuts, set in motion by Congress’s failure to strike a bipartisan deal during the Supercommittee’s deficit reduction negotiations, the “most irresponsible thing a commander-in-chief has done.”

The cuts are mandated by the Budget Control Act, which was signed into law last August by President Obama in exchange for a $2.4 trillion increase to the debt limit. House Speaker John Boehner had insisted that any increase to the debt limit be matched dollar-for-dollar in spending cuts and reforms, but as the federal government ran critically low on cash, Congress had only agreed to about $1.2 trillion in savings. Still, the debt limit was increased under an agreement where a “Supercommittee” would negotiate an additional $1.2 trillion in savings, or face sequestration (ie, automatic cuts). After the committee failed to strike a deal, the country was left with the sequestration.

The Obama administration, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, have warned what the cuts would mean for the military, but Romney has also hit the president over the cuts on the campaign trail. The cuts would mean about $500 billion to defense and about $500 billion to entitlements or social programs.

Forbes said the president will visit Virginia tomorrow with a “huge box of pink slips” for defense contractors and military personnel in the state.

Lehman said he’s been in the service since 1964 and never seen anything “quite as irresponsible,” adding he doesn’t think the president did it out of “malice, necessarily.”

“The president doesn’t understand defense, doesn’t understand how it works,” Lehman said.

When Talent was asked about Congress’ approving the measures and setting the process in motion, he again blamed the president.

“I can just tell you that the president is the commander-in-chief and Congress takes its lead from him,” Talent said.

Forbes added that he did not vote for the cuts and they will be, “catastrophic to the national security, catastrophic to the economic security."

Talent was also asked if Romney has been “sufficiently transparent” with his financial disclosures as well as his “personal holdings and assets” or if should release additional tax returns as Democrats are calling him to.

Talent calling Team Obama hammering the issue a distraction and “desperate.”

“I think at a time when the nation’s suffering through unemployment above 8 percent for longer than since the Great Depression -- and would be higher than that if it were not for all the people who just got so discouraged that they just quit looking for work -- this attempt at the White House to shift attention from the real issues of the campaign is getting to the point of being desperate,” Talent said. “Gov. Romney has released his 2010 tax returns, his estimate for 2011. He will release the rest of it when it’s available and he’s going to continue to talk about the issues that matter to the American people.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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