Pentagon told to start planning for fiscal cliff cuts
December 5th, 2012
03:38 PM ET

Pentagon told to start planning for fiscal cliff cuts

By Mike Mount

The White House has ordered the military to start planning for the possibility of cutting $500 billion from its budget over the next 10 years as part of the fiscal cliff, Pentagon officials said on Wednesday.

Agency spokesman George Little told reporters that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) instructed the Defense Department to start internal planning for possible spending reductions on top of other cuts already in the pipeline.

The military had been ordered for months not to get ready for the automatic budget cuts - also known as sequestration - related to the fiscal cliff that would hit January 2.

"Naturally, we hope very much that sequestration will be avoided and that we don't enter that phase in early January 2013. We don't want to go off the fiscal cliff, but in consultation with OMB, we think that it is prudent at this stage to begin at least some limited internal planning," Little said.

The fiscal cliff is a combination of tax increases and spending cuts that are due to take effect if the White House and Congress cannot agree on a framework for tackling deficit-reduction by year's end.

As part of a budget agreement in 2011 that allowed the Obama administration to raise the debt ceiling last year, a congressional "super committee" was tasked to find more than $1 trillion in government savings over the next decade, but no solution was reached.

Absent a deal in coming weeks, the Pentagon's share of budget cuts would be $500 billion - about half the government-wide total - over the next decade.

This would come on top of a similar amount in other longer-term spending cuts identified by the Obama administration previously.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said fiscal cliff cuts would destroy the new military strategy the department announced this year that had accounted for the other big Pentagon spending cut.

While the Pentagon has said cuts would not hit troops or their families, it would most likely target most other accounts, including research and technology, weapons and civilian defense department jobs.

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Filed under: Budget • Defense Spending • Military • Sequestration
soundoff (54 Responses)
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    May 11, 2017 at 12:44 am | Reply
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    January 3, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Reply
  4. John the Historian

    Let the cuts begin. Maybe then the Neocons will start promoting their children into going to a war of choice. Hope they can still find those weapons of mass destruction. Maybe President Cheney or Mary Cheney can go look for weapons of mass destruction. No more proxy wars and no to death, destruction, disease, and horror. Imagine a bake sale for the military. We need education not wars.

    December 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Reply
  5. John the Historian

    Military industrial complex go broke. War is only death, destruction, disease, and horror. Want a war go enlist yourself.

    December 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Reply
  6. Political Agnostic

    Let the Defense cuts take place. The Military Industrial Complex needs to go on a diet. Also, have the first cuts in the rest of the government spending come from Congressional budgets. Cut the staff budgets by 1/2 and the Congressional salaries by 2/3. End government supported healthcare for Congress an have them pay into Social Security and Medicare like the rest of the country. Maybe then they will do the work they were elected to do.

    December 11, 2012 at 9:11 am | Reply
  7. Ind.

    Merry CHRISTmas!!!!

    December 11, 2012 at 1:12 am | Reply
  8. Ind.

    No compromise Obama is here to say. YOU people voted for him.

    December 11, 2012 at 1:02 am | Reply
  9. Riptide

    I'D RATHER GO HUNTING WITH DICK CHENEY then trust Obama with Taxpayer Money..

    December 6, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Reply
    • gop'er

      so what's stopping you?

      December 7, 2012 at 12:14 pm | Reply
    • Liberace; America's Greatest American

      If you don't like it here, or who we have elected as president, you can always leave.

      December 7, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Reply
    • trex

      ......Here............wear these ANTLERS for Big Dick.

      December 8, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Reply
  10. Riptide

    Tsk Tsk Tsk! again blame it on Bush oh wait!!

    December 6, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  11. Bojack

    I love reading how some want to cut the DOD budget to zero. Got a message for you, NOT much will actually be cut. The actually warfighter budget will be cut some, but not the rest of the programs in the DOD budget. Every try to look up the CIA budget, you can’t fine it, that is because it is hidden in the DOD budget along with a number of other agencies.

    December 6, 2012 at 2:42 pm | Reply
  12. B

    It is about time! The biggest cost boondoggle in American history that is never challenged on legitimacy!
    President Eisenhower warned us all about the reality of a Industrial Military Complex that would go -Out of control.
    We do not need a Naval Task Force in every damn ocean on the planet and Military bases in every region in the World!

    Telling the World that we want reductions of Nuclear weapons and at the same time spending Billions developing the Next Generation Nuclear weapons ourselves.

    We could educate all of our youth many times over with the cost of false redundancy of the Military!

    December 6, 2012 at 11:56 am | Reply
    • NNN

      It has been said that patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel, the context of which may have changed these past 200 years yet remains right on point. We've ended up with a huge defense industry working in collusion with a hopelessly mismanaged DoD civilian bureaucracy robbing America blind in the name of national security.

      December 6, 2012 at 12:18 pm | Reply
  13. NNN

    This is long overdue, the Pentagon outright squanders way more than a measly $50 billion annually. This is the only way to get them to take a hard look at the way they do business and reform their wasteful operations. The DoD civilian workforce in weapons development has been a standing joke for the past half century, most of their operations exist simply to stimulate the local economies with almost all the work being done by contractors, meaning the cost of that sector alone is twice what it should be.

    December 6, 2012 at 11:51 am | Reply
  14. Dave

    Eeeeehhhhhh, it is kind of late. The cliff is about three weeks away from us. This plan should have been in place 2 months ago. Is this how you guys plan your wars? On the fly?

    December 6, 2012 at 9:37 am | Reply
  15. Roberto

    Obama should be tried for treason...he robbed the American tax payer...he flushed trillions down the toilet and now he wants to make us suseptible to an attack by the Russians and the red Chinese his buddies...what a slime...

    December 6, 2012 at 4:18 am | Reply
    • 1neuman

      No Roberto. Your neocon buddies in the prior administration spent all our money on military expansion, and two unjustified invasions, while cutting taxes and putting the cost of the wars on credit cards. Now you have to pay the piper.

      December 6, 2012 at 8:43 am | Reply
    • Rocco

      you are obviously a clown...we spend more money on our military then ANY other country in the world, and even with these cuts we'll still be outspending our enemies on the military...

      So basically, what you are saying is, America's military needs to outspend everyone 3 or 4 times over to be effective, when i'm sure there's plenty of ridiculousness we can cut from their budget and not affect their capability. Tried for treason? Are you kidding me? Your boy Bush should be tried for treason for getting us into a war for no reason whatsoever.

      Funny how republicans seem to easily forget that, when all Bush had to do was not go to war to appease his daddy and his war profiteer vice president (Halliburton), and not only would we not have lost thousands of brave American lives, but we wouldn't be in nearly the dire financial straits we are now.

      If we need to cut anything from the military, i say we cut these ridiculous outside contracts where people charge hundreds of dollars for a toilet seat...

      December 6, 2012 at 8:48 am | Reply
      • hdraptor

        So very true!

        December 6, 2012 at 12:29 pm |
      • trex

        ............The good ol' US of A ...spends what the...... NEXT 16 COUNTRIES SPEND COMBINED.....on Defense..........Come ON. We are thinking of STARVING GRANDMA, NO HEALTH CARE, and we have MILITARY BASES ON EVERY CONTINENT AND SEA...............WHAT ARE WE DEFENDING?......................STARVING GRANDMAS?

        December 6, 2012 at 2:55 pm |
    • Hard Drinkin' Lincoln

      The Robertos of this world make excellent cannon-fodder.

      December 6, 2012 at 10:46 am | Reply
    • NNN

      Who 'trained' you to use a keyboard?

      December 6, 2012 at 11:57 am | Reply
    • B

      Roberto, Perhaps you might try reading something besides comic books before you make a fool of yourself in public.
      The Russians and the Chinese are not our enemies, only ignorance like your displaying should be our country’s main concern these days!

      Education is the key to success in our future.

      December 6, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Reply
  16. Lance D.

    The GOP cheerfully announced how excited they were to see President Obama "take the lead" after his successful (albeit deceitful) re-election bid. So far, Obama has not disappointed his base. He has displayed "very impressive and stellar leadership skills." No one has any reason to complain. Kudos to the POTUS for strerring our Nation towards prosperous waters - our STRONG Captain and "Inglorious Commander-In-Chief."

    December 6, 2012 at 1:38 am | Reply
  17. gfulmore

    Translation for "civilian defense department jobs" is "contractors." The military probably has more contracted employees than permanent employees. There has not been an audit of our military operations for decades, and none is scheduled soon. $500 billion over 10 years is only $50 billion per year. We are currently borrowing almost $4 billion per day, so $50 billion will help in that respect. We need to get our $1.3 trillion annual deficit down, down, down. $50 billion is less than 4% of that. We simply must stop adding credit cards every year to our debt!!!! $50 billion is a good start. Add in increases to the top tax rate brackets, plus increases to capital gains and reduced limits to deductions for mortgage interest and we're starting to get somewhere!

    December 6, 2012 at 1:37 am | Reply
    • RJ Taylor79

      Please do the math. 4 billion a day debt equals out to 1.46 trillion a year. so how is saving 50 billion a year going to solve anything? were is the rest of the 1.41 trillion cuts coming from to equal ( that means 0 add to the debt, we still need to lower it)? just asking. And I keep read that people want to take spending from one area and move it to others. That like paying your credit card with your other credit card. It makes no sense. If you make cuts take that cut and put it towards the national debt not other programs like education, health care, etc.

      December 6, 2012 at 7:52 am | Reply
  18. massoud

    If our Foreign Policy as originally intended was followed which is to protect the United States and not police the world and get involved in Nation building in other Nations. Then we would not be spending so much money that we are borrowing against our future generations and devaluing the purchasing power of our debased fiat currency. Eventually with our debt and sinking credit rating the policing the world and corporate and public welfare gig will be up its not a matter of if but when. When the dollar loses its reserve currency status and the chickens come home to roost as a result of our runaway government spending w will have stagflation inflation and a broke nation, it will be a rude awakening for anyone who is unprepared for the day of reckoning

    December 5, 2012 at 9:57 pm | Reply
  19. trex

    .........Attention......: At ease. Ok boys. we must reduce our DEFENSE SPENDING by 10%. You KNOW what that means...............Since we SPEND WHAT THE NEXT...........16 COUNTIRES DO...........COMBINED..................we NOW MUST CUT ...........what Israel and Spain spend TOTALLY on Defense. I know boys that those _Planes from outside Philly we dont want, we wont get. And we wont get that 19th aircraft carrier. That means those 125 jets wont be bought ever. This means will will NOT be able to provide air cover for the eskimos on their yearly seal hunt.

    December 5, 2012 at 7:45 pm | Reply
  20. Hard Drinkin' Lincoln

    Time to fire some janitors.

    December 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Reply
  21. Corte33

    Does this mean we have to cut back on the number of generals in the Pentagon?

    December 5, 2012 at 6:12 pm | Reply
    • gop'er

      what will happen to all their mistresses now?

      December 7, 2012 at 12:16 pm | Reply
  22. Cheese Wonton

    Gamesmanship. Anyone who follows the defense industry press knows that the components of the DoD have been planning in all but name for sequestration. Now the administration makes this announcement to add a little pressure on the Republicans.

    December 5, 2012 at 6:10 pm | Reply
  23. Kevin

    Your an idiot.

    December 5, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Reply
  24. Dave Jaipersaud

    I guess the Republicans rather sellout the military so that their friends – the top 2% income earners in this country, can enjoy their lavish tax breaks which most of them don't need or care about. The Republicans have no moral compass. They would sellout the military and stick the middle-class and poor with a higher bill to reduce the deficit before asking their wealthy donors and friends to pay a bit more. You know how we all get outraged when we see someone taking advantage of a helpless individual, well, this is the kind of outrage we should feel towards the Republicans.

    December 5, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Reply
    • massoud

      Yea you are right the Republicans have no moral compass but nor do the Democrats I love it the idea that one of these political parties is better than the other.They both are pathetic, morally corrupt and bankrupting America.So lets see, these two parties have both been in power for over 150 years and look where both parties have got us. $16 Trillion Dollars in debt and counting neither the Republicans or Democrats party is exempt from criticism.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Reply
  25. 28Mamerican

    Do your jobs. Or lose them.

    December 5, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Reply
  26. Steve

    Pretty sure the DoD can do with $500,000,000,000 less. The world would be relieved...

    December 5, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Reply
    • Kevin

      Your an idiot.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Reply
      • jklm

        Do you mean you're an idiot?

        December 5, 2012 at 6:33 pm |
      • straight talk

        I read " kevin you are an idiot".

        December 5, 2012 at 6:50 pm |
  27. KT

    You freaking kidding me? THe job of the government is to provide infrastructure and safe environment to pursue happyness, own property, and conduct business... not FEED everyone. And the first thing that gets hit is the military? Wow. Talk about backwards priorities. Even the private market benefits. MOST technology comes from the military sector. What are we coming to?

    December 5, 2012 at 4:47 pm | Reply
    • Miker

      I'm a Canadian, we rely on you guys to defend all of North America! What Now?

      December 5, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Reply
      • Hard Drinkin' Lincoln

        Start drinking.

        December 5, 2012 at 7:03 pm |
      • HincEtInde

        Don't worry, we will Still have plenty stuff to keep you safe......

        December 5, 2012 at 7:32 pm |
    • Cheese Wonton

      With sequestration everything gets hacked, not just the military. It is telling that of all the various government functions that will suffer cutbacks in services under sequestration, it is defenes spending that seems to most concern people.

      December 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm | Reply
  28. cjacja

    I think they need to make a goal for a 50% cut in the DoD. That would be hased in over some years. Mostly attrition in the lower ranks and RIFs at the upper end. 50% in ten years is reasonable. It would free up hundreds of billins for education, health care and infrastructure and tax relief.

    December 5, 2012 at 3:53 pm | Reply
    • Kevin

      Stupid Liberal.

      December 5, 2012 at 5:54 pm | Reply
  29. Patriot Awesome

    Oh no! We're going to have less ways to kill brown people now!

    December 5, 2012 at 3:52 pm | Reply

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