John Bolton and fellow war hawk Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) don’t want the Pentagon to have to sacrifice in order to rein in the nation’s debt and deficit. In fact, they actually want more military spending and they want to cut Social Security in order to pay for it.
Not surprisingly, the Defense Department doesn’t want to sacrifice much either. While Republicans and defense lobbyists are pushing back against significant cuts, in a letter yesterday to DOD personnel, Pentagon chief Leon Panetta warned of future “dangerous across-the-board defense cuts.”
But it also appears that the Pentagon is taking cues from Bolton and Lieberman. Speaking without attribution to reporters yesterday, a “senior defense official” said Congress should raise taxes, cut Social Security and other entitlements, and leave DOD’s budget alone:
“I would expect them to focus on entitlement and taxes,” the senior defense official said, talking to reporters about the Super Congress, as the 12 members of the budget cutting committee are sometimes known. The Budget Relief Act gives those 12 people the authority to make $1.5 trillion in additional federal budget cuts. “I would hope they would not make further cuts in defense,” the official added. Pressed by reporters at a Pentagon briefing on whether pursuing tax increases and cutting entitlements was the department’s policy, the official did not demure.
Panetta and the Defense Department are worried that the bipartisan committee tasked with deciding on further spending cuts beyond the $1 trillion Congress and the White House agreed to this week will put military spending on the chopping block.
However, there is no specific amount of military spending reductions laid out beyond the $350 billion that is part of the debt ceiling deal (the $350 billion is actually $50 billion less than what President Obama had called for back in April). As the Cable reports, Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ), the two heads of the Armed Services Committee, say that “even they have no idea how much the debt ceiling deal will cut from national defense, because the specifics of the cuts are still unknown.” But it appears that defense officials, war hawks and their lobbyists are pre-empting further cuts by making noise about it now.
As AOL Defense notes, referring to the unnamed senior defense official, “It’s awfully clever of the Pentagon to hammer out its position now, before the members of the panel have been named. It’s hard for Congress to react when they don’t know who should be doing the talking.”