Although Republicans have been insisting on cuts to federal spending, they are fighting to keep the defense budget off limits. They agreed to make cuts to military spending as part of last year’s sequester agreement, but there is a full-court press in progress to derail the cuts as the date on which they are set to take effect nears. This well organized campaign involves members of Congress, governors, mayors and military contractors. Here is what is involved, according to the House Armed Services Committee:
If sequestration takes effect in January, the defense budget would be cut an additional $55 billion per year from the levels established in Budget Control Act. That would mean an additional $492 billion in cuts on top of the $487 billion already being implemented [over ten years]. In total, over $1 trillion would be cut over the next ten years with disastrous consequences for soldiers, veterans, national security, and the economy.
This amounts to a reduction of around 14 percent to the defense budget. Even with the cuts, the U.S. will remain the biggest military spender in the world by far. In its pitch to put off the cuts, the House Armed Services Committee invoked the threat of job losses:
Cuts to spending for the acquisition of military equipment alone would lead to the loss of over 1,000,000 private sector jobs. These cuts could push unemployment back up to 9%. Cuts to active-duty and DOD civilian personnel would amount to over 350,000 jobs lost.
The impact will be borne disproportionately by some states. The ten states that will feel the largest pain as a percentage of the state economy are Virginia, Connecticut, Alabama, Arizona, Maryland, Alaska, Hawaii, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, and Missouri.