Defense Spending Cuts Threaten 10% of Pentagon Budget
The sequestration that was averted in the January 1 fiscal cliff legislation will still threaten a significant portion of the Pentagon's budget. Sequestration has been postponed, not avoided.
On March 1, there are still $45 billion of cuts to the Department of Defense scheduled to take place. Those looming cuts are already altering the Pentagon's administration and decisionmaking. As Comptroller Robert Hale said:
"We face a lot of uncertainty," Hale said. "We find ourselves balancing a lot of costs and risks."
The Pentagon comptroller also said the department was likely to be delayed in producing its budget for the 2014 fiscal year because of the political standoff between Congress and the administration over how to lower the country's deficit.
That debate led to the New Year's deal that saw taxes rise on the richest Americans but delayed until March a decision on whether to allow across-the-board cuts to defense and other programs.
"I think it's almost inevitable there will be some delay (in the 2014 budget submission)," Hale said.
These budget cuts are actually the most valuable per-dollar components of the fiscal cliff for economic growth - The Congressional Budget Office estimated that between 200,000 and 700,000 jobs would be lost over the next two years if these cuts take place.
March 1 is the deadline. The process of the fiscal cliff deal shouldn't exactly inspire ordinary Americans to be hopeful that the optimal solution to these defense cuts will take place.