Defense Department to Hill: Save Us From Budget Ax

September 5, 2012

Washington’s defense community may be eagerly awaiting a report from the White House to detail how it would implement across-the-board budget cuts early next year, but the Pentagon’s top weapons buyer already can describe how they’d work.

“If you want to know what will happen to your program, look at how much money you expect to have in your budget next year and cut 11 percent,” said Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition Frank Kendall, calling it “a singularly stupid way to take money out of the defense budget.”

Just the same, the White House Office of Management and Budget will likely send its report on the cuts to Congress soon, Kendall said Wednesday. It’s in response to a bill President Barack Obama signed into law Aug. 7, requiring OMB to detail how the administration would handle the automatic restrictions known as sequestration.

Still, the report is not expected to break a yearlong logjam between Republicans and Democrats over how to avert the Jan. 2 budget restrictions, which were set in motion by last year’s battle over raising the debt ceiling. They would reduce defense spending growth by $500 billion over the next decade, which could translate into an estimated $55 billion in cuts starting in the middle of its 2013 fiscal year.

The threat of sequestration was designed to force Republicans and Democrats to compromise on a larger debt deal, but so far, that hasn’t worked. Unless Congress can somehow avert the cuts by the end of the year, the reductions are set to take effect. Defense hawks, the Pentagon and the defense industry all agree the cuts would be devastating.

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