Budget Trigger is Pentagon’s Armageddon, or Maybe Not a Big Deal

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The debt deal trigger that could impose a separate round future cuts at the Pentagon will gut the Defense Department budget, dramatically weaken the military, and place national security at risk. Or, the cuts are not that steep and are not that big of a deal, depending on who you ask.

The “trigger” or “enforcement mechanism” everyone is talking about goes like this: In addition to the basic budget cuts in the deal, if a congressional panel does not by the end of the year come up with a way to cut $1.5 billion more from the government’s budget over ten years, then 1.2 billion in cuts automatically kick in. Half of those cuts would come from defense spending. That means either Armageddon or not a heck of a lot.

Here is Cato’s Christopher Preble:

The Pentagon’s budget has more than doubled over the past decade, and current projections call for the Pentagon to receive more than $6 trillion from U.S. taxpayers through 2021. If its budget got cut by 15 percent, that would return us to roughly 2007 levels. That hardly seems like “gutting.” After such cuts, we would still account for more than 40 percent of global military spending, and our margin of military superiority over any combination of rivals would remain unrivaled.

And here is AEI’s John Bolton:

There is no strategic rationale whatsoever for cuts of this magnitude.  There is, in fact, every strategic rationale to the contrary.  While the appropriations process may still be able to decide which specific programs will be cut, this is no consolation.  Cuts of this size are effectively indiscriminate.