House Starts Push-Back on Defense Spending Cuts
Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a series of Pentagon spending cuts, designed to trim the military’s budget by $100 billion over five years by slowing the rate of spending growth. Initial criticism, if any, came from deficit hawks who view the cuts as too small, and indeed most in Washington applauded the cost-saving measure. The exception: members of Congress representing districts with a high concentration of military contractors.
The inevitable push-back from those members is beginning. Yesterday, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) announced that the House will hold hearings to “determine the rationale behind [the] proposal to cut defense contracting by 10 percent per year for three years.” Connolly asked the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform to hold hearings asking the Pentagon to “justify this decision and its potential effects,” and the Subcommittee on Government Management, Organization, and Procurement agreed.
Connolly calls Gates’ proposal “arbitrary and capricious,” saying in a statement, “arbitrary cuts never produce the desired results and are frequently proven to be counterproductive. While I applaud the Secretary for looking for internal savings in the Pentagon, I have questions about the justification for his plan. No rationale was given and no analysis was provided to justify such cuts. One trembles at the thought of the disruptions, dislocations, cost overruns, and termination costs associated with such a plan. Generally, when someone says they are going to cut something across the board, it means they have given up on taking a paring knife to strategically look at and cut specific programs that may not be cost effective or working as planned.”
Connolly represents tens of thousands of government contractors in Fairfax, in northern Virginia.