Both Barrels

  • Share
  • Read Later
Getty Images

Sequestration increasing looks like it is going to happen. The Pentagon reacted Wednesday the only way it can: by screaming bloody murder, and firing two warning shots to highlight the pain an additional $600 billion in military spending over the coming decade will mean.

By mid-afternoon, cable TV was buzzing with reports that the Pentagon will seek to cap military pay raises at 1% next year:

The recommendation is tied to the Defense Department’s 2014 budget recommendation, which was expected to be sent to Congress this month, one of the officials said. But the officials acknowledge it is going to be seen as an effort to push Congress to stop the automatic budget cuts that could go into effect if no deal is reached on spending reductions.

…CNN’s Barbara Starr reported.

A short time later, a second wave of stories emerged about the U.S. Navy deciding against a planned deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman to the Persian Gulf:

Budget strains will force the Pentagon to cut its aircraft carrier presence in the Persian Gulf area from two carriers to one. As a result, the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman won’t deploy from Norfolk on Friday as planned.

…the carrier’s hometown paper, the Viginian-Pilot, reported.

The day began with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta denouncing Congress for its inability to get the nation’s spending priorities straight. Under a law Congress passed in 2011, it has until March 1 to come up with a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction package over the coming decade. If it fails to do so, roughly half those cuts will be lopped from the Pentagon’s budget.

But Panetta, speaking at Georgetown University, began with a strange choice of words:

After a decade of blank-check spending in the Department of Defense it was important of us, the leaders of the department, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the service chiefs, the service secretaries and myself, who strongly believe that we had to meet this challenge of reducing the defense budget.

Panetta believes that the $487 billion already whittled off the Pentagon’s projected rate of spending increases is sufficient. But that does not represent a cut in actual spending. If sequestration comes, that will trim Pentagon spending by about 10%, or back to its 2007 level.

Panetta detailed some of what he says sequestration would mean for the services:


We’re going to cut back on Army training and maintenance, putting about two-thirds of our active brigade combat teams outside Afghanistan at a reduced readiness level.  We’ve got to cut back on their training.  We’re going to have to cut back on the ability to support the troops who are not in the war zone.  So what happens is we put more stress on those who are in the war zone.


We’re going to have to shrink our global naval operations with a reduction of as much as one-third in our western Pacific naval operations. This whole idea about trying to rebalance will be impacted.

Air Force:

We’ll cut the Air Force flying hours and weapons system maintenance, putting flying units below acceptable readiness standards by the end of the fiscal year.

Pentagon civilians:

We will furlough as many as 800,000 DOD civilians around the country for up to 22 days. They could face a 20 percent cut in their salary.

Interestingly, he didn’t cite the Marines Perhaps he deemed them a lesser-included contingency — a Pentagon term of art during the Cold War — under the Navy’s umbrella.

With sequestration three weeks away (absent an additional congressional stunt, which is always a possibility), Pentagon nerves are fraying.

That’s what happens when you spend money you don’t have.


"Pyongyang ProvocationNorth Korea set for test launch of new mobile ICBM with upcoming nuclear test"

Hey! What better time to increase food stamps, welfare, free Obama phones and condoms while we cut defense?


A one trillion dollar cut in projected government spending of $44 trillion over ten years. The horror!

Don_Bacon 1 Like

Sometimes, rarely, Panetta and makes sense by speaking the truth -- "After a decade of blank-check spending in the Department of Defense . ."

So the cuts shouldn't be a problem sans "blank checks" when  there is no military threat to the country.

S_Deemer 1 Like

Thank you for reporting, correctly, that military pay increases will be capped at 1% if/when the sequester goes into effect, instead of calling it a salary cut, as many in the press have been doing. The sequester deal was passed on the assumption that representatives of both parties would behave like responsible adults and cut a deal before it ever happened. Sequester is not a great solution, but perhaps being knocked upside the head with a 2x4 is what's required of our lawmakers at this time.


Unfortunately, it's not the lawmakers in the path of the 2X4. Mrs. bobell and I can survive a 20 percent cut in my pay for a few months, but lots of my colleagues are living paycheck to paycheck, and they're going to be hurting badly.

I know there's a lot of economic pain out there, and I suppose there will be some schadenfreude on the part of some of those already disadvantaged when they see the same thing happening to a mllion or so federal employees, but spreading pain gratuitously, which is what the sequester does, is an extraordinarily vindictive thing for Congress to be doing. This is no way to shrink government -- even if you assume that shrinking government makes sense.

Will sanity break out?  In Congress?  Even Ash Carter is betting against it, and Panetta also seems to be expecting the worst.  Stay tuned to this channel.


@bobell : Frankly, it's a shame that Medicare and SS aren't going to be affected by the sequester. That would get some attention quickly — in fact, probably enough to head it off entirely.

shepherdwong 1 Like

@bobell  It's not vindictive, Bob. Cowardly and stupid perhaps...



These are the same people who had the attitude about a fiscal cliff as something good. Not because they would get a better deal by doing so, but because the bloodbath wouldn't be so bad.

shepherdwong 2 Like

@bobell  I don't think the Teatards have much of a clue about anything, including how sequestration is going to shake out. I doubt FOX or their GOP reps (assuming they know) are going to tell them it's going to hurt federal employees because they're too worries about how it's going to hit their fat cat defense contractor patrons. The only people on the Republican side who know, desperately don't want the defense cuts.

bobell 3 Like

@shepherdwong So you don't think that at least the Tea Partiers are trying to punish federal employees for being in the employ of the hated government?  I do.

bobell 1 Like

"That's what happens when you spend money you don’t have."

Oh, we have the money, Mark.  We have to borrow some of it, but we have it.  Stick to reporting on military matters and leave economics to people who know xomdthing about it.

And leave the snark to Scherer.  He's good at it.  You're not.

Arimathean 1 Like

Perhaps the armed forces should have just each written, "We will stop buying new s*** we don't need."

bobell 1 Like

@Arimathean That might work, but it's not what's happening.  Cutting every military appropriation account by the same amount is an absurd idea, but that's what the sequester requires.  And Congress has shown no interest in allowing DOD to determine for itself how to spread the pain.  So personnel and operation accounts get cut by the same percentage as procurement.

Is this any way to run a railroad -- let along a country?

Arimathean 2 Like

@bobell You're right.  But hey, the sequester was SUPPOSED to be irrational and painful.  It is stupid by design, in order to motivated Congresspeople to compromise on a better plan.  What does it say about the House and Senate that they'd sooner accept the willful terrible than compromise?

AfGuy 2 Like

@Arimathean @bobell 

That the lobbyists for the defense industry are whispering louder in their ears than anyone speaking for those out in the trenches, on deck, and on the flightline?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,122 other followers