|Will Sequester Make US 'Second-Rate' Power?|
|Devin Dwyer||Feb 26, 2013, 11:23 AM|
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Two days before those deep automatic spending cuts take effect, President Obama visits Newport News Shipbuilding to highlight where the " meat-cleaver" spending cuts of sequestration will be felt most: the military, defense contractors, suppliers and their families.
He will paint a dire picture. Roughly half the $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next decade hit the Pentagon budget, meaning layoffs, furloughs, trimmed operations - and even the delayed deployment of an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf.
Republicans have suggested the White House is embellishing what the effects of the cuts will be in order to get more revenue - tax hikes - in a potential deal to cut the deficit.
"The president is master at creating the impression of chaos as an excuse for government action. Do nothing, fan the flames of catastrophe and then claim the only way out is more government in the form of higher taxes," said Senate Minority Leader McConnell on the Senate floor Tuesday.
There's no question the belt-tightening will mean real pain for some workers and families. But is a 9-10 percent reduction in the military coffers, after a decade-long spending spree, really going to "hollow out" our force, making us a "second-rate power"?
The answer is not cut and dry. Here's a look at some of the potential impacts of the defense cuts, and important caveats about how serious they will be.
Some Republican critics of the administration - and staunch defenders of the military - say the impact on defense programs is overblown. "The reality is that this is just part of political theater, part of the campaign," Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told ABC's Jonathan Karl of President Obama. "He's trying to scare the American people. He's trying to distort the impact."
To say, "'well…we're going to be hollowing out our military'… If that were really the case, the president should take my suggestion of postponing new spending programs," Jindal said.
Still, caveats aside, and despite the White House's previous commitment to streamlining the military and making it more agile and nimble, spokesman Jay Carney insists there is no silver lining to Sequestration.
"The President agrees with his Secretary of Defense," said White House press secretary Jay Carney last week. " He agrees with the numerous Republicans who have said on the record that the onerous cuts in the sequester to defense - the across-the-board, indiscriminate cuts to defense will harm our national security interests; will reduce our readiness; will result in a reduction in flight hours; will result - have resulted already in changes in our rotation for aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf."
"I don't think the issue here is the language you use to describe it, because every characterization you make of it, if you're being honest about it, is negative," Carney said. " The impact will be negative. It will harm our national security. And that is a problem."