The big national news this week has been the failure of the bipartisan congressional “super-committee” to reach a deficit deal. So unless Congress comes up with another plan over the next year or so, in 2013 a series of automatic spending cuts across the federal government go into effect.
On the defense side, reporter Anna Mulrine of of The Christian Science Monitor outlines the current situation this way:
“The failure of the super committee to reach a deficit deal will now trigger what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has described as a ‘doomsday’ scenario.
Namely, this entails $600 billion in mandatory budget cuts during the next decade – in addition to $450 billion in cuts that the Pentagon had already agreed to.
Mr. Panetta for his part has provided impassioned pleas against the mandatory cuts, warning for months against their dangers to the US military…
In short, he warned, “It invites aggression.”
Such dire exhortations, however, are causing some budget analysts to roll their eyes, as they note that even the most extreme cuts would merely bring Pentagon spending back to 2007 levels.
Others have calmly pointed out that the mandatory cuts…are unlikely to survive the election year.”
And since New Hampshire has a big economic stake in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard just across the way in Maine, the state’s senators have been reacting to the news. Reporter Michael McCord of seacoastonline.com writes:
“Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said it was too early to know how such cuts could affect the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, which overhauls and refits the country’s Los Angeles class nuclear submarine fleet and employs an estimated 6,000 civilian and military personnel.
‘The Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is a vital national security asset, and while it is too early to know exactly what will come out of all the deficit reduction negotiations, it is encouraging that the Navy has prioritized funding for improvements at the shipyard in its 2012 spending plans,’ Shaheen said.”
“Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and voted against the legislation creating the debt reduction committee in August because she said even the mandatory cuts weren’t enough ‘to correct our reckless fiscal policy.’
She blamed the supercommittee’s failure on Obama, who is visiting New Hampshire today.
‘At a time when we need to be working together, it’s unfortunate that the president has chosen to sit on the sidelines as the deficit panel has gone about its work,” Ayotte said. “While it’s too early to say whether this would affect Portsmouth, I will continue to work with the New Hampshire and Maine delegations to vigorously promote and protect the shipyard.’”