When House Speaker John Boehner acceded last summer to a debt ceiling deal that threatened 10 years of $50-billion spending cuts to the Defense Department, cynical conservatives everywhere suspected the defense cuts would somehow manage to materialize. Meaningful entitlement reform was left to a so-called “Super Committee,” but defense cuts? They were to be the default in the event of the committee’s inevitable failure.
Never mind that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta calls the cuts “unworkable” and “a disaster” that will “hollow out the force and inflict severe damage to our national defense.” Never mind that Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey says they’re “an unacceptable risk.” Never mind, above all, that the cuts to defense are entirely disproportional to the bit of the budget consumed by defense spending. (In case anyone has forgotten, we spend five times more on entitlement programs — Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — than we do on defense.)
But if the president doesn’t care about any of that, he does care about his reelection. He can relatively reliably count on voters to overlook the threats to national security posed by these cuts. He can more reliably count on voters to remain attached to the benefits dispersed by cherished entitlement programs and to consequently overlook the lack of action on entitlement reform. He can’t, however, reliably count on the favor and support of the hundreds of thousands of workers who stand to lose their jobs if these cuts occur.
Defense shouldn’t be immune from cuts, but Mr. Obama’s policy choices are turning America into an entitlement state with a shrinking military—in other words, Europe. The U.S. would be left with the smallest Navy since World War I, the smallest ground forces in 70 years, and at just over 2.5% of GDP the smallest defense budget since Pearl Harbor.
Sequestration compounds the damage because the cuts would be automatic and indiscriminate. The Pentagon now concedes that funding for the war in Afghanistan would be hit, contrary to past assurances. So would current operations in the Persian Gulf. Training programs, equipment maintenance and military benefits are affected too. Defense contractor Lockheed Martin says the law obliges it to send layoff warnings as soon as October to most of its 123,000 workers—the kind of manufacturing jobs Democrats claim to love.
In my home state of Oklahoma, as many as 16,000 people could lose their jobs.
Obama has blathered all summer long about Mitt Romney and Bain Capital, about the jobs Mitt’s company supposedly destroyed or “outsourced.” For Obama’s benefit, the liberal media has flogged the “release your tax returns!” horse and left sturdier horses in the barn stalls — horses named “June jobs report,” “decreased consumer confidence” and “a drop in retail sales,” to name just a few.
Hmm. What to do with this story? Don’t you just know our dear Commander-in-Chief would love to delay it?
According to a floor speech by Oklahoma Republican Sen. Jim Inhofe, the president has asked those in the defense industry to delay pink slips until after the Nov. 7 election. Fortunately for those the president would prefer to blindside, Inhofe will have none of it:
I have every reason to believe, because I’ve heard from people in industry, that the president of the United States is trying to get them to avoid sending pink slips out until after the Nov. 7 election. I would remind him that we have something called the Workers Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, the WARN Act. It requires these companies to give 60 days’ notice of pending layoffs.
Since sequestration will take place on Jan. 2, these workers must be notified of their pink slip by Nov. 2. This is what I’d like to remind those companies: They don’t have to wait. If they want to notify workers today, they can do that. I think it is imperative that the workers who are going to be laid off work as a result of the Obama sequestration be notified in advance of the November election. We’re going to do everything we can to make sure that happens.
Keep your eyes out for real news, people, because ABC and other outlets are too busy targeting the Tea Party to see it.
Tina Korbe is Policy Impact Director at the Oklahoma Council of Public Affairs and a former associate editor right here at HotAir.com.