By Jamie Crawford
As the chief architect of the Republican budget plan, presidential nominee Mitt Romney's choice for vice president, Paul Ryan, is well-known in budget policy circles around Washington, but his 14 years on Capitol Hill have left a much smaller paper trail when it comes to foreign policy statements and achievements.
That said, Ryan's focus during his seven terms in Congress on balancing the federal budget and extolling the virtues of fiscal restraint seems to have also formed the center of his thinking on foreign policy issues, which seems to hue to the classic Republican view of the world.
"If there's one thing I could say with complete confidence about American foreign policy, it is this: Our fiscal policy and our foreign policy are on a collision course; and if we fail to put our budget on a sustainable path, then we are choosing decline as a world power," he said last year when he gave a speech on American foreign policy at the Alexander Hamilton Society in Washington.
By Jennifer Rizzo
Republican members of Congress went head to head with the White House Wednesday, pressing the administration on how across-the-board budget cuts set to take effect next year would be implemented.
An administration official in turn pressed back, telling Congress to do its job and pass balanced budget legislation to avoid the indiscriminate cuts.
"To make this vivid, the right course is not to spend time moving around rocks at the bottom of the cliff to make for a less painful landing," said Jeffrey Zients, the acting director of The Office of Management and Budget, the entity which would provide guidance on implementation. "The right course is to avoid driving off the cliff altogether."
By Mike Mount, CNN Senior National Security Producer
Chief executives of leading defense companies told a House panel Wednesday they would have to start informing employees just before the 2012 election that their jobs would terminated in January if Congress fails to make a budget deal, triggering hundreds of billions of dollars in defense cuts that would ripple through the defense industry sector.
The four CEOs testified before the House Armed Services Committee and echoed what many defense industry officials have been sounding the alarm about for months: The automatic cuts, known as sequestration, would be devastating to the defense sector and the economy.
By Jennifer Rizzo and Chris Lawrence
As John Polacek walks through his western Pennsylvania factory, he waves to the people that work for him. But don't call them employees.
"We don't hire an employee. We hire a family, and that's the way we like to treat them," Polacek said. "They want jobs for life here. They're not going to move on until the next guy gives him a pay raise. They're here because they like working here. They like the fact that they are saving American lives doing the defense work that they are doing here."
JWF Industries is a military subcontractor. It makes parts for vehicles like Humvees and Strykers that get manufactured by larger companies like Lockheed Martin or BAE. Polacek employs 450 people, but he's worried some will be out of a job beginning next year if the Defense Department has to cut more from its budget.
By Mike Mount
Afghanistan war funding could be in jeopardy if proposed severe budget cuts hit the military in the beginning of 2013, according to senior Pentagon officials.
Senior leaders at the Pentagon are becoming increasingly concerned as it becomes clear that the $500 million in additional budget cuts possibly hitting the Pentagon in January, known as sequestration, also includes the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) which is the Pentagon's war budget.
The potential cuts are the result of a congressional deal struck last fall while negotiating over the current budget deal. Those negotiations resulted in the inability of Congress and the president to agree on a deficit-reduction plan. If there is no agreement, come the beginning of January 2013, the Pentagon will be forced to cut an additional $500 billion from its accounts over the next 10 years.
The top U.S. military official voiced more concerns about the uncertainty over the Pentagon’s budget with the looming threat of an additional half trillion dollar cut, should Congress be unable to reach an agreement about debt reduction by the end of the year.
“I know what the budget did to us with the reduction of $487 billion as a result of the Budget Control Act, but I don’t know what it would do to us with another $500 billion,” Joint Chiefs Chairman, Gen. Martin Dempsey told CNN’s Barbara Starr in an interview during the Army 23th birthday celebration. “I know how hard it was to get $487 (billion).”
If another $500 billion was cut from the budget, in a trigger mechanism known as sequestration, Gen. Dempsey said there would be a risk.
“We would certainly be less visible and active globally because we’d have a much smaller force. And nature abhors a vacuum,” he said. “And if we’re not there others will be and that doesn’t mean we have to be the world’s policeman and all the rhetoric but it does mean we have to engage and build partnerships. We have to live up to our treaty obligations and so forth.”
By Mike Mount
The Pentagon's chief budget officer is ringing the alarm bell about looming budget cuts that could destroy the department's new defense strategy and force the defense industry to face "absurdities" as defense programs are shuttered.
"This is not the way to do defense planning and budgeting," said Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.
Carter was speaking to reporters Wednesday in Washington about the effects of sequestration, a possible automatic cut in the defense budget of more than half a trillion dollars over the next 10 years. Sequestration would kick in starting in January 2013 if President Obama and Congress cannot come to agreement on cuts in the overall budget.
By Mike Mount, Senior National Security Producer
In what is shaping up to be a classic congressional right vs. left fight over defense and war funding, both the House and Senate are gearing up to battle over some expected and not-so-expected items in the 2013 National Defense Authorization Act.
On Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee passed its version of the bill, showing its hand to members of the House of Representatives on what it felt should be authorized for military spending.
The act authorizes spending limits and sets defense policy, but it does not actually appropriate the funds.
The committee version must still pass a full Senate vote. The House signed off on its bill this month. While a date has yet to be announced, both the final House and Senate versions will go through extensive negotiations to hammer out a final version of the legislation, expected in the fall.
Both bills have numerous amendments that will be debated and fought over in the coming months. Keep an eye on these five if you like political fireworks.
By Jennifer Rizzo
A House Armed Services Committee member is taking the obscure concept of "sequestration" to the streets, kicking off a nationwide tour Monday to discuss the potential $1 trillion in automatic cuts threatening the defense budget.
"The impact of looming defense cuts would be catastrophic to our military, communities and veterans. If no action is taken by January 1st," Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Virginia, said in a press release. "I look forward to seeing firsthand how sequestration will impact Virginia installations and hear how these cuts will affect local communities."
The Department of Defense already is required to cut $400 billion from its budget as part of an agreement that allowed President Barack Obama to raise the debt ceiling. The same deal created a congressional "super committee" tasked to find more than a trillion in government savings over the next decade, although no solution was reached. If Obama and Congress cannot come to agreement on where the cuts should come from, another $600 billion would automatically be axed from the defense budget. The automatic cuts are referred to as sequestration.
The "Defending our Defenders" tour, which begins in Chesapeake, Virginia is being billed as a "listening session" where attendants can share their stories, ask questions, and voice their opinions on how massive cuts to the defense budget would impact their communities.
But some see an ulterior motive in the tour - using it as a platform to argue against the cuts.
By Ashley Killough
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said Sunday he misspoke earlier in the week when he accused military officials of not being honest about the Pentagon budget.
“I really misspoke,” Ryan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I didn’t mean to make that kind of an impression. So, I was clumsy in how I was describing the point I was trying to make.”
On Thursday, the Wisconsin congressman said senior military leaders had been misleading when they defended a decrease in Pentagon spending proposals. He argued that the generals were not “giving us their true advice” and accused them of toeing an administration line.
"I think there is a lot of budget smoke and mirrors in the (administration's) Pentagon budget, which is not really a true, honest and accurate budget. When you confront military experts – retired or active – they concede these things to us," Ryan said.
Read more about the military's response on CNN's Political Ticker.