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AIA Issues Last-Ditch Plea to Senate Leaders on Sequestration as Fiscal Cliff Looms

Dec. 29, 2012 - 02:27PM   |  
By JOHN T. BENNETT   |   Comments
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The Aerospace Industries Association is issuing a final plea, aiming to convince lawmakers to address pending Pentagon cuts in their fiscal cliff legislation — but it may be too late.

AIA President and CEO Marion Blakey issued a sharply worded statement Saturday as Senate Republican and Democratic leaders were trying to piece together legislation that would avoid the so-called fiscal cliff.

The leaders reportedly are pursuing a deal that would focus almost exclusively on tax cuts, meaning identical $500 billion defense and domestic spending cuts would be allowed to kick in Jan. 2.

House GOP members want deeper domestic cuts as a way to avoid the pending defense cuts; congressional Democrats, however, are not likely to propose such domestic cuts.

"It would be a grave dereliction of duty to drop fixing it from a fiscal cliff bill. We can't believe they would fail our military and our economy like that," Blakey said in the statement.

"We understand that sensible budget cuts across government will have to be a part of long-term deficit reduction, but sequestration is simply the wrong way to do it," Blakey said. "This mindless meataxe will cause immense disruption and harm our economy and national security — which has already absorbed $487 billion in cuts — without reducing the deficit in any meaningful way."

Not everyone sees it that way, however.

Some Democratic lawmakers — and a smaller number of ultra-conservative Republicans — as well as liberal- and libertarian-leaning analysts believe the Pentagon's budget is ripe for trimming.

Lawmakers just cleared the military to spend over $630 billion in fiscal 2013, and numerous polls show most Americans favor sizable Pentagon cuts as the post-9/11 wars are ending and Washington shifts to smaller-footprint ways of fighting al-Qaida.

This group says the defense budget grew so much in the post-9/11 era that the Pentagon could easily reduce its spending plans by $500 billion over a decade when, even with the cuts, it is projected to surpass $600 billion before 2020.

Senate leaders intend to present their fiscal cliff bill to their party caucuses on Sunday afternoon.

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Editor's Note: Please visit DefenseNews.com for coverage throughout Sunday afternoon and evening.

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