Thursday, February 7, 2013

Republicans up the Rhetoric on DoD Sequestration Backing Themselves Into a Corner

Do Republicans really believe their own rhetoric?

Republicans on Armed Services are upping the rhetoric about sequestration to make it sound like the end of an era for United States as a Superpower is at hand if the US military is required to take sequestration cuts.  With all their rhetoric, they have backed themselves into a corner as pointed out by Talking Points Memo:
That argument exposes the GOP’s bluff. If the consequences will be as dire as Graham et al claim, then of course it’s worth considering paying down sequestration with some new tax revenues. By contrast if the situation isn’t desperate enough to make Republicans consider higher revenues, then how can they claim it will be a boon to the country’s enemies. If both things are true then the GOP position amounts to prioritizing emboldening Iran and al Qaeda over modestly raising taxes on wealthy Americans. 
The comments of Senators McCain, Graham, and Inhofe leave you shaking your head and asking why do these three men insist that small cuts be made while taxes not be raised on the wealthy?  Cuts will be on the backs of civil service if the GOP has its way.  It doesn't seem like this group feels there are any cuts that can be made at DoD without sacrificing readiness which is a blatant spinning of the truth.  There might not be an organization in the Federal Government that wastes more money then the Defense Department with some of their boondoggles over the years with their attitude of shiny and new for weapons systems over maintaining/upgrading what is already in the inventory.

Once again the three Senators on Senate Armed Services are over the top with their comments in this article:
Armed Service Republicans Reveal Unsustainable GOP Position On Sequestration
Armed Service committee Republicans in both the House and Senate scheduled a Capitol press conference Wednesday to promote legislation to pay down the sequester — deep, across the board cuts to defense and domestic spending — through September without raising any tax revenue. But the assembled members unintentionally revealed a tension just beneath the surface of GOP unity that might ultimately crack the party’s anti-tax absolutism once again.
Several of the members — all party principles on defense issues — described the consequences of sequestration in apocalyptic terms. 
“If it’s implemented it’ll cut every ship, aircraft, tank, truck program, research and development across the board,” said Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who until recently was the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services committee. “According to one economic analysis the cost — would cause the loss of 350,000 full time direct jobs, and 650,000 indirect job losses.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) depicted sequestration as a gift to U.S. foes. “Our enemies would love this to happen,” he said. “I’m sure Iran is very supportive of sequestration. I’m sure Al Qaeda training camps all over the world would be pleased with the fact that sequestration will gut the CIA.” 
This raises an obvious question. If the consequences of sequestration are dire — if they might even result in the deaths of innocent people — isn’t it worth sitting down and negotiating with Democrats, who say they’re done hacking away at domestic social programs simply because Republicans refuse to increase revenues? 
Here’s how Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), the top armed services Republican, responded. The terrible consequences of sequestration, he said, are “not desperate enough that you can start raising taxes when you can do it without raising taxes.”

The plan the Republicans are proposing would freeze congressional pay and reduce the federal workforce by attrition to pay down the sequester through the end of the fiscal year.
What about next year Senator Inhofe?  Is that another punting the ball down the field to run out the clock instead of taking bold action to work together for sensible cuts/raising taxes.  What does the GOP have against raising taxes on the wealthy including wealthy defense contractors?  Guess they favor the corporate loopholes where you can move profit off shore and yet take expenses off your income tax.

Senator Bernie Sanders submitted a bill today to close those corporation loopholes.  Will any of these three Senators sign on to that. My bet is NO!

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Thursday introduced a bill to stop profitable corporations from sheltering income in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens. The legislation also would end tax breaks for companies that ship jobs and factories overseas.  Sanders’ bill and a companion measure to be introduced in the House by Rep. Jan Schakowsky would yield more than $590 billion in revenue over the next decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. “At a time when we have a $16.5 trillion national debt and an unsustainable federal deficit; at a time when roughly one-quarter of the largest corporations in America are paying no federal income taxes; and at a time when corporate profits are at an all-time high, it is past time for corporate America to contribute significantly to deficit reduction,” said Sanders, a member of the Senate Budget Committee. 

Senator Sanders makes sense on steps to lower the debt and deficit while the Armed Services GOP trio plan is to freeze salaries of Congress and cut the federal workforce by attrition.  I can think of cuts to Congress that should be made as there are too many aide/committee staffer positions which have grown in numbers over the years.  Congress needs to get their own houses in order with cuts first starting with their boondoggle trips and then we will listen.

What does the DoD have planned if sequestering takes place?  Some of the cuts are outlined by Defense Industry Daily:

  • House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA), SASC Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-OK), and other allied Republican members of Congress introduced the Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2013 [PDF] as their way of preventing sequestration. The bill “would pay for one year of defense and non-defense sequestration by requiring a reduction in the federal workforce through attrition and a pay freeze for members of Congress.” The Congressional pay freeze is of course only symbolic. More than anything, this proposal shows no grand bargain is going to happen in the less than 4 weeks remaining before the sequester kicks in: it’s now all about finding a patch that will stick for a little while.
  • Meanwhile Continuing Resolution/sequestration planning continues to trickle down through the services. The Air Force memo [PDF] shows $3.4B in FY13 (still tentative) sequestration actions, from potential furloughs to reductions in weapons sustainment and flight hours.
  • And here’s the take from Vice Adm. David Dunaway for US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR):

“A year-long CR and sequestration would mean a $3.5 billion cut to NAVAIR in FY13, including $3 billion across investment accounts (research and development, and procurement) and $520 million in OMN.”

  • The US Navy also decided to delay the deployment of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HST CSG).

AOL Defense has the Army plans if sequestration is implemented including the slides referenced below:
WASHINGTON: Rarely have such pretty slides told such an ugly story. While Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno tries to talk up "The Force of Tomorrow," Army briefing documents obtained today by AOL Defense lay out the near-term impact of sequestration, the Continuing Resolution, and unresolved overseas contingency operations needs: an enormous $18 billion shortfall for the service that will be borne almost entirely by federal workers and military readiness. 
The Army will have money to fully train only a fraction of its total force: The 82nd Airborne's Global Response Force paratrooper brigade, units in Korea, and troops headed for Afghanistan. Everyone else will cancel everything more elaborate than "squad-level training."
As a result, the documents say, "In 1st quarter [of] FY 2014 , 78% of non-deploying, non-forward deployed brigade combat teams (BCTs) are not ready for contingencies without significant preparation." 
Even individual training will suffer in some areas. Helicopter pilots won't be able to fly enough to meet proficiency requirements. Cutbacks at flight schools will leave the Army short about 500 aircrew for its fleet of helicopters. Cancellation of other specialized courses will create a shortfall of about 4,000 military intelligence specialists.
All services will most likely furlough employees for up to 22 days if the sequestration cuts go through.  Are Republicans in the Congress going to be the Party of NO for raising taxes and closing loopholes to keep from sequestration at the DoD?  Or are the members of the Party of NO going to get some common sense and work with President Obama to avoid the cuts.  Republicans bluffs no longer work as it is time to get serious instead of the House wanting to overturn Obamacare again which is not going to happen.  The House is the worst I have seen in my lifetime with getting nothing done and taking more vacations since the GOP took over the House.  Time for House Republican leadership to put Country over Party and get something done.  Compromise is not a dirty word and if they think it is, then time to resign from Congress and allow adults to be in charge.

My suggestion for a cut at DoD:
If Defense contractors want to pay their CEO's and top managers millions, then remove those salaries from overhead in contracts so the cost of manhours reflect the actual cost not the over inflated costs that a $25M salary w/benefits paid to a CEO will bring.  Base the overhead for the CEO and management on what the Government pays their top people including the President and not a penny more.  These same Defense contractors pay their top echelon millions in salaries/benefits/bonus while giving their rank and file employees who do the actual work small raises each year. In the meantime taxpayers are getting ripped off by these people in the defense industry who make demands of Republicans in Congress not to raise their taxes or change the way contracts are awarded or how to calculate their overhead including salaries/bonuses/benefits/golden parachutes.  Their GOP puppets stand tall, salute, and say "Yes Sir!" while the taxpayers of America get shafted once again.
See how easy that was and there are plenty more cuts that can be made without sacrificing our military and our national security but then some members of Congress might not get their perks/donations from the defense industry.  Taxpayers would be the winner.

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