While U.S. Defense Secretary Panetta and military supplier Lockheed Martin Corp. warn of cuts to the military budget, a recent survey shows that 76 per cent of Americans support cuts.
A survey of 665 Americans opinions on defense cuts conducted by the Stimson Center, the Program for Public Consultation and the Center for Public Integrity shows not only do over three quarters of respondents favor budget cuts to the military but that cuts are supported both in Republican and Democratic congressional districts.
90 per cent of respondents in Democratic districts support cuts but over two thirds in Republican districts also supported cuts. Democratic districts supported larger cuts than those in Republican districts, Those polled in Democratic districts supported a 28 per cent cut in the budget on average while their counterparts in Republican districts suggested only a 15 per cent cut.
There was very little support for increasing military spending. In Democratic districts, only 4 per cent supported an increase. In Republican districts support rose only to 15 per cent. Support for cuts among the public contrasts with warnings about cuts from some politicians and corporations.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others are particularly worried about cuts that might be triggered by the sequestration. Sequestration is described as follows:
If the dozen or so appropriation bills passed separately by Congress provide for total government spending in excess of the limits Congress earlier laid down for itself in the annual Budget Resolution, and if Congress cannot agree on ways to cut back the total (or does not pass a new, higher Budget Resolution), then an "automatic" form of spending cutback takes place. This automatic spending cut is what is called "sequestration."
These automatic spending cuts will come into effect on January 2013 unless action is taken before then. Although Social Security and some parts of the defense budget are exempted there would still be deep cuts to the defense budget. On June 21st Panetta warned Congress that if cuts go into effect next January the defense budget would be cut another 500 billion dollars above the cuts already proposed by President Obama. These cuts Panetta claims would do severe damage to national defense.
Lockheed Martin Corp. Pentagon's largest supplier also voiced concerns about the possible 500 billion dollar cuts. CEO Bob Stevens said that the cuts would cause massive cuts and disruption in the defense industry. He said.
. "From an industry perspective, the near-term horizon is completely obscured by a fog of uncertainty,"
The fiscal cliff as the sequestration issue is often called needs to be tackled before investors will have any confidence in the U.S. economy over the longer term. The military-industrial complex is unlikely to suffer the drastic cuts that concern its representatives. Given the views of Americans some further cuts would seem politically acceptable. Don't expect much to happen though until after the November elections.