Republicans in Congress are irate at the defense reductions, which they say would threaten national security - and jobs in their districts and states. They have been looking at ways to get the Pentagon completely off the hook from sequestration, approving House legislation that would shift the full burden to other domestic programs that Democrats vow to defend.
But Obama’s defense secretary, Leon Panetta, also warned Congress last November against letting the $54.5 billion in cuts actually occur, saying they “would render most of our ship and construction projects unexecutable - you cannot buy three-quarters of a ship or a building - and seriously damage other modernization efforts.”
According to a paper issued by the Bipartisan Policy Center, purchases of new aerial refueling tankers and aircraft carrier refurbishments would also be put on hold.
“The sequester would create a defense budget build-down that’s more like a cliff than a staircase and that would be different from any previous era” of Pentagon budget-cutting, said Mackenzie Eaglen, a research fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute.
PLANS GONE AWRY
These automatic spending cuts were never supposed to happen.
They were folded into a hard-fought fiscal deal, the Budget Control Act, enacted last August as a cudgel. By purposely containing such Draconian actions, congressional leaders reasoned they would force the bitterly-divided Congress into taking a more intelligent approach to deficit reduction.
But by mid-November, the effort by the so-calledf “super committee” to come up with a balanced, targeted array of spending cuts and revenue increases ended in total failure.
Various members of Congress continue to study ways to write a new, more reasonable approach to deficit reduction. Democratic Sen. Carl Levin told reporters July 18 that “90% of us want to avoid sequestration” and said a deal was still possible before the November elections.