Federal spending cuts: can't anybody here play this game?
Posted by John Keller
Here it is, the day before Thanksgiving; too bad the U.S. aerospace and defense industry doesn't have too much to be thankful for.
The so-called congressional supercommittee, put in place to identify federal spending cuts over the next 10 years, has declared failure -- even before its deadline.
The supercommittee was tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in federal spending cuts over the next decade, and members simply couldn't do it. Reminds me of a quote from Casey Stengel, manager of the hapless 1962 New York Mets, a team that lost 120 out of 162 games that year. "can't anybody here play this game?" Stengel reportedly asked. The committee's failure means the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) budget faces annual automatic cuts of $55 billion.
-- More meaningless posturing over "automatic" cuts in the defense budget
-- Pentagon's 2012 budget: procurement and UAVs
-- Smoke, mirrors, and other hocus-pocus take center stage at U.S. deficit-reduction talks.
Think of that kind of defense cut, if Congress allows automatic cuts to proceed. $55 billion is enough to pay for about 40 F-35 Lightning II joint strike fighter aircraft, 1,200 Predator unmanned aerial vehicles, 885 M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks, or 12 Nimitz-class aircraft carriers. Remember, that $55 billion cut could happen every year for 10 years in a worse-case scenario.
Now the federal budget faces potentially automatic deep spending cuts starting in federal fiscal year 2013, which begins in 10 months. DOD programs could be among the hardest hit if Congress does not intervene.
Intervention. That was supposed to be the role of the supercommittee, but partisan bickering doomed negotiations probably before they really got started. Makes me wonder of Congress as an institution is even capable of reducing federal spending.
I have my doubts that Congress will stand by to see these potentially devastating DOD spending cuts take hold. There are simply too many special interests at stake for Congress to ignore. Time will tell, and presidential and congressional elections less than a year away undoubtedly will play a central in how things turn out.