Fred Grandy is one of the smartest – and certainly most respected men – in Washington. He achieved that reputation the old fashioned way: He earned it as a former Congressman, successful non-profit business executive and long-time top-rated talk radio show. So when he warns Republicans that they have entered a potentially fatal “box canyon,” they should listen.
In conversations on the “Secure Freedom Radio” show we co-host, Fred has been warning for some time about the Budget Control Act of 2011. He has described it as the legislative equivalent for his Republican colleagues on Capitol Hill as a box canyon, meaning the sort of naturally occurring, dead-ending geological formation used by Indians and desperados in the Wild West to trap and snare their prey.
Pursuant to that act, either 1) a congressional “supercommittee” would come up with $1.2 trillion in cuts or 2) reductions in that amount will be achieved through automatic cuts – half from domestic discretionary spending, half from the Pentagon’s budget.
Fred Grandy’s point is that, by agreeing to this deal, as a practical matter, Republicans allowed themselves to be fatally boxed in: Either they would have to accede to Democrats’ demands that taxes be raised. Or they would share responsibility for the meat ax that would indiscriminately cut $600 billion across the board from the country’s national security capabilities.
The former is now foreclosed. And the latter would have particularly devastating effects – “catastrophic” is the term being used by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Joint Chiefs of Staff – because they would not be the first cuts. Rather, they would come on top of roughly half-a-trillion dollars in Pentagon funding reductions already in the pipeline.
The cumulative effect will essentially eliminate the modernization of the armed services’ aging fleets of aircraft, ground vehicles, ships and other weapons. They will preclude much of the research and development needed to ensure our forces can deter – or at least compete effectively with – tomorrow’s threats.
The reductions imposed via the so-called sequestration mechanism (which Mr. Panetta has called a “doomsday machine”) will also adversely affect the refurbishing of existing, worn-out equipment. It will require further contraction of military bases, ports, airfields and depots and the defense industrial base and its suppliers. And the services’ respective “end-strengths” – the numbers of personnel in uniform – will be cut, perhaps dramatically.
Frank Gaffney Jr. is the founder and president of the Center for Security Policy and author of War Footing: 10 Steps America Must Take to Prevail in the War for the Free World .
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