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Pentagon Budgetary Hat Trickery

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The sky-is-falling game is now fully underway when it comes to the more than $500 billion in Pentagon budget cuts slated to begin March 1 if Congress and the White House can not agree on a $1.2 trillion deficit reduction by then. So far, no rumbles of any kind of a deal.

Sequestration means the Pentagon would have to hack $46 billion out of the seven months left in its $557 billion 2013 budget (these numbers vary depending on who is using which yardstick when; $46 billion is the size of the cut projected last week by Ashton Carter, the deputy defense secretary, and the $557 billion sum is the number used by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments).

Anyway, time for the wheels to start squeaking:

Bloomberg reports that Pentagon contracts “plunged” 67% in January, compared to December:

The Pentagon wants to reduce commitments to better prepare for the possibility of automatic cuts, which would require making steep reductions to the annual budget over just six months, according to Larry Allen, president of Allen Federal Business Partners, a consulting firm in McLean, Virginia. “Slowing spending on anything other than what is absolutely essential saves on contract cancellation costs,” he said in an e-mail.

Meanwhile, over at the Washington Times, correspondent Rowan Scarborough reports that the Obama Administration has selected high-profile cuts – including indefinitely delaying the deployment of the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman to the Persian Gulf Feb. 6, two days before she was set to sail — to make them appear worse than they really are:

Analysts and Capitol Hill staffers say there are less-dramatic budget items that could be sacrificed in the first year of a decade of across-the-board spending cuts called sequestration. But they think the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the White House want to pick the items that would put the most pressure on lawmakers.

All this, of course, might lead some to think that the Pentagon is facing huge budget cuts that could cripple the nation’s security.

That leads to the third item in this hat-trick of budget news: this video summary of what’s actually happening to the nation’s military budget, It’s from the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

What do you expect from the Quakers? Damn pacifists. Probably affects their math skills.

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