Twelve men and women have 30 days to do the job 535 members of Congress, including members of Connecticut’s delegation, have failed to do for years. Runaway spending has led to staggering deficits that will create cascading economic and national security issues. At stake is the security of the American people here at home and fighting for our freedoms around the world, and for Connecticut, nearly 40,000 jobs could be on the line.
For years, Congress has abdicated their responsibility to produce a spending plan that balances both sides of the ledger. And now Congress has left a closed-door committee, referred to as the Super Committee, with a task that seems more focused on providing political cover for the professional politicians in Washington than for making the difficult decisions needed.
To refresh your memory, the budget deal struck last July by the Obama Administration and Congressional leaders called for the creation of the Super Committee to identify $2 trillion in deficit reductions over 10 years to offset the $2.4 trillion increase in America’s debt ceiling. While $900 billion of those cuts were identified, a second round of reductions must be targeted by November 23.
If the Super Committee fails to reach agreement, or if Congress does not enact its recommendations by Dec. 23, the resulting “trigger cuts” would cause $1.2 trillion in automatic reductions, half of which would come from the Pentagon’s budget, beginning in January 2013. Let’s take a closer look at the consequences of the potential cuts that Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, a Democrat, said would “do great damage.”
Cutting spending is going to hurt, but any pain must be worth the gain. With little to gain by misplaced cuts on defense, the pain of arbitrary defense reductions could be devastating for Connecticut, putting potentially 40,000 people out of work. Jobs at stake include those at East Hartford’s Pratt & Whitney building engines for the Joint Strike Fighter; Stratford’s Sikorsky Aircraft Corp. manufacturing military helicopters; and Groton’s Electric Boat. Given the potential of failure on the part of the Super Committee, Connecticut stands to pay a heavier price than most other states. For us, failure to act is not an option for the Super Committee.
In April, the President touted $400 billion in cuts at the Pentagon and praised Secretary Gates for courageously taking on wasteful spending. All of this and yet domestic cabinet agencies had not been asked to carry out comparable cost cutting. Shockingly, spending grew from $513.7 billion in 2008 to $825.6 billion in 2009, representing an appalling increase of 58.5 percent.
I’m all for cutting wasteful spending in Washington, but the implementation of across the board cuts to defense are disastrous – it could leave our fighting men and women without the equipment they need to save their lives and protect our country.
Another grave concern over the consequences of the Super Committee’s failure to reach agreement on cost cutting is the mismatch between the perceived upside and very real downside of arbitrary reductions to defense. Defense spending is currently only five percent of the nation’s total economy.
Now I’m not an expert in the ways of the Washington games that got us here, but in the business world, we know that when spending cuts need to be made, a nonstrategic approach such as this that compromises the core objectives is both irresponsible and counterproductive. The professional politicians have said they are hopeful that the Super Committee will reach an agreement but acknowledge there is no certainty. As we have found out over the last three years, hope is not a strategy and change is not leadership.
Linda McMahon is a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.