Think Tank Proposes $100B ‘Politically Feasible’ Defense Cuts As Part of Fiscal Cliff Solution

The F-35C jet is one of the programs contained in a proposal to cut $100 billion from the Pentagon budget.

Even as the headlines warn time is growing short to avert the coming so-called fiscal cliff, an influential progressive Washington think tank is proposing $100 billion in defense cuts which could be accepted by Democrats and Republicans alike.

The Center for American Progress on Friday released “$100 Billion in Politically Feasible Defense Cuts for a Budget Deal,” an issue brief outlining targeted reductions in defense spending to put the nation on what it calls a more sustainable fiscal path, while eliminating unnecessary and ineffective programs without harming U.S. national security or economic recovery.

“This issue brief recommends $100 billion in responsible reductions over 10 years as an initial target, a modest ‘down-payment’ that would bring the defense budget back to its 2010 level in real terms. While greater savings are both possible and, we would argue, necessary, this brief outlines a menu of the most politically palatable cuts, widely endorsed by organizations on both sides of the aisle,” a statement announcing the release of the document says.

As Congress continues its fiscal negotiations, it should consider the following reforms:

  • Eliminate the Navy’s buy of the over-budget F-35C jet and instead purchase the effec­tive and affordable F/A-18E/F jet to save $16.62 billion over 10 years
  • Reduce the size of U.S. ground forces to their prewar levels to save $16.16 billion over 10 years
  • Reform the Pentagon’s outdated health care programs to save roughly $40 billion over 10 years
  • Reduce the number of deployed nuclear weapons to 1,100 by 2022 to save at least $28 billion over 10 years

“Responsible reductions in defense spending would force the Pentagon to better manage taxpayer money. Over the past decade, despite tremendous increases in defense spend­ing, the Pentagon’s equipment has aged and the size of its combat fleets has shrunk, as the department squandered $50 billion on weapons programs that were later cancelled and struggled with cost overruns on many of its major procurement programs,” the statement says. “The Pentagon has been so poorly managed that it is unable to even conduct an audit—although it has set a goal of being audit-ready by 2014. The keystone of our country’s national security apparatus cannot keep track of how or on what its money is spent.”


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