President Obama believes that the nation’s defense will remain strong despite a severe decrease in military resources and manpower. His optimistic view is wrong, however, as evidenced by the thousands of pink slips slated to hit the military’s industrial base within the next several months.
President Obama’s unrelenting demand for defense budget cuts will ultimately lead to a severely hollow military. His unwillingness to deal with the current ramifications of sequestration, despite the advice of senior level government and military officials, is an example of the Administration’s disregard for a legitimate defense policy.
Over the course of the next 10 years, over $500 billion will be slashed from the defense budget if the cuts from sequestration go into effect. Coupled with the already $487 billion long-term reductions from the Budget Control Act, the monumental effects of this bill will greatly hamper the ability of the military to meet its objectives both at home and abroad.
Senior military officials have made alarming warnings over these cuts. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta called the impending cuts “unworkable” and “a disaster,” while Joint Chiefs chairman Martin Dempsey called the cuts an “unacceptable risk.” Rather than heed his advisors’ counsel, Obama has chosen to focus on enhancing entitlement spending, which gives the impression that national security is the White House’s lowest priority.
For Obama, the consequences of sequestration, slated to go into effect January 2013, are wreaking havoc within the military community just in time for the presidential election. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said that sequestration will “disrupt thousands of contracts and programs.” The complexity of the military’s acquisition process and its dependence on contractors will force companies to downsize and cause the government to pay steep fines for broken contracts.
Proposed cuts are already causing defense industry executives to plan layoffs for highly trained and hard-to-replace personnel. The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act mandates that employers inform employees of possible job termination 60 days before they are asked to leave. Workers will be given these notices several days before the elections—a move that could hurt the President at the polls.
President Obama should take the lead in remedying the problems posed by sequestration by listening to military officials and overturning sequestration. It is his constitutional responsibility and duty, as commander in chief, to keep our nation safe. President Obama should take a clear look at entitlement reform and recognize that the fiscal crisis can be solved in ways that will not risk the security of theU.S.
Suzanne El Sanadi is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm.