Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has called it the “doomsday” scenario: The Super Committee deadlocks and defense funding faces substantial cuts. That’s why, the day after the president signed the debt ceiling into law, I wrote that the Super Committee would need deficit and defense hawks.
A few weeks and 12 picks later, the first half of Panetta’s scenario is a little less likely and the specter of the second half looks a little more insubstantial, given that a way to delay the cuts actually exists. Still, it’s nice to know a few of the Super Committee members have an added incentive to avoid the triggered cuts to defense funding: Turns out, several of them come from states that could be especially struck by the cuts.
From The Washington Times:
The cuts could hammer Everett, Wash., where some of the 30,000 Boeing employees are working on giant airborne refueling tankers for the Air Force, or Amarillo, Texas, where 1,100 Bell Helicopter Textron workers assemble the fuselage, wings, engines and transmissions for the V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.
For committee members such as Sens. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat; Rob Portman, Ohio Republican; and Patrick J. Toomey, Pennsylvania Republican, the threat of Pentagon cuts is an incentive to come up with $1.5 trillion in savings over a decade. Failure would have brutal implications for hundreds of thousands workers back home and raise the potential of political peril for the committee’s 12.
Given all of this, of far more concern than the possibility of cuts to defense is that the Committee looks increasingly unlikely to yield any meaningful work on entitlement reform. In the end, the Committee will probably come up with the bare minimum cuts it needs to avoid the trigger mechanism, but the biggest driver of our debt will remain unaddressed. Of course, it will still be better that the “bare minimum cuts” come from some area other than defense, one of the few responsibilities of the federal government explicitly outlined in the Constitutions.