Triggering Defense Cuts

Defense spending may be marginally safer now that Sen. Harry Reid’s debt-ceiling plan – which included up to $860 billion in defense cuts – has been taken off the table. But the new proposal being kicked around by Republicans and Democrats reportedly contains a measure that could jeopardize our national security at a later date. By including a “trigger” mechanism that will kick off across-the-board spending cuts if (when?) both parties are unable to agree on reductions, Congress is opening defense up to some serious budget-slashing. Here’s John Bolton’s take:

Every indication is that the debt ceiling negotiations are leaving the defense budget in grave jeopardy. By exposing critical defense programs to disproportionate cuts as part of the “trigger mechanism,” there is a clear risk that key defense programs will be hollowed out.

Our military has already been asked to make some painful sacrifices in the name of deficit reduction. Obama’s initial FY11 projections called for $6.7 trillion in defense spending during the next 10 years. That’s been reduced to $6.2 trillion (the FY12 appropriations projection), as the military has been fighting three wars and struggled to modernize and replenish equipment.