The Super Congress’ mandate for deficit reduction has put defense spending in the crosshairs of a series of proposed plans.
In a new article, the Center for American Progress looked at four deficit reductions plans from across the political spread. The four plans were from Sen. Tom Coburn, the Bowles-Simpson fiscal commission, the Center for American Progress and the plan by the Project On Government Oversight and Taxpayers for Common Sense.
A look at the four plans found a “surprising amount of overlap” in defense cuts despite their origin from all over the political spectrum. The plans range from cutting about $100 billion by 2015 to just over $1 trillion in the next decade, but they all target similar areas for reductions.
All four plans agreed on reforming the TRICARE military health care system, which cost as much as the war in Iraq in 2011, reducing F-35 and V-22 procurement and reducing troop levels in Europe and Asia.
One of the proposals in our report with Taxpayers for Common Sense, to reduce the Navy’s aircraft carrier groups, may already be coming true. We are waiting for many more to follow.
Some of the plans also called for a reduction in defense personnel and for replacing military personnel with civilians. The plan published by POGO and Taxpayers for Common Sense did not make those recommendations, but POGO is preparing a report on the issue of how the Department of Defense splits its personnel between uniformed offices, civilians and contract employees.
The suggestion of reductions in defense spending has raised the traditional protests of weakening national security. The article argued against shifting the budget reductions from the DoD to Veteran Affairs, Homeland Security or the Department of State.
Doing so would continue to overstate the proper role for the military within our foreign policy. After an unprecedented streak of 13 consecutive years of rising defense budgets, the United States is now spending more on defense than at any time since World War II and almost as much as the rest of the world combined.
If the members of the Joint Select Committee on Debt Reduction start coming up with specific defense cuts they may turn to recommendations from their own political base, whether it is left, right or center. Either way they look, they will find recommendations for the same types of cuts. And some, or all, of these cuts should be part of any deficit reduction package.