Add Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX) to that list. But Thornberry — who is also on the House Armed Services and Intelligence committees and is vice chair of the Subcommittee on Emerging threats — one-upped his colleagues yesterday on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show yesterday. Thornberry said DOD can live with the initial $350 billion, but if Congress cuts anything beyond that, the military goes kaput:
HEWITT: So Mac Thornberry, if you look at this budget that we just passed, this deficit reduction that we just passed, $350 billion dollars from Defense over ten years, and another $600 billion coming up. Is that how we fund facing future threats?
THORNBERRY: No, of course not. The first cuts are something that the Pentagon says they can live with, it’s going to be hard, but it’s kind of in the ballpark of what folks have been talking about for a while. The second cuts, if they were to happen, would be devastating. You simply could not operate the military with that second round of cuts. And the assumption is that they’re not going to happen, that there’ll be a way out of it. But it concerns me that they would even be taking Defense hostage in these budget negotiations.
Frightening. But in reality, under the deal, security spending is capped at $684 billion in 2012. And according the Center on Budget on Policy Priorities, defense spending will be reduced by $55 billion per year for ten years starting in 2014 if the trigger takes effect:
A defense sequestration of $55 billion would be imposed in a similar manner. … For 2014-2021, the cuts would occur through reductions in the statutory caps on total defense funding, with the Appropriation Committees deciding how best to allocate the allowed funding. … A defense sequestration of $55 billion also would represent a cut of roughly 9 percent in defense programs if military personnel funding is exempt from sequestration, and about a 7 percent cut if it is not.
So defense will have to deal with 7 to 9 percent cuts per year for a decade if the trigger takes effect, which amounts to around $850 billion in total defense spending reductions in ten years under that scenario. Various estimates have calculated that defense can withstand further cuts beyond that and still maintain military superiority and address the country’s security threats. So yes, despite Thornberry’s fearmongering, the military will still be able to operate.