DoD Buzz

Hill Cool to Deficit Panel Cuts

The real question about the presidential deficit panel's recommendaitons is, will they make it past Congress. The initial reaction to the proposed cuts from defense lawmakers has been, to be succinct, muted.

Rep. Buck MeKeon, the likely chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, made it clear the day after the election he would not be amenable to defense cuts and there have been no statements of support for the panel's defense recommendations from any senior defense lawmakers since they were floated yesterday.

One congressional aide was cautious. "I have to say that the magnitude of the changes and the general environment make it difficult to judge. Prior [to the election], I'd say no way. Given what has happened and where we are as a country -- possible to get some significant change," said this aide, who offered the most positive assessment of the panel's chances.

Another aide, whose views seemed emblematic of several others who declined to speak for the record, pretty much dismissed the panel's efforts. "Our national debt is a huge issue, but without security, the federal debt and all other national issues become meaningless. The DoD needs to be wise with its tax dollars, but major cuts to defense spending are not a sustainable solution to the debt. Oh, and by the way, we're still at war," the aide said.

And that is likely to be where the Congress comes down on the panel's defense recommendations: we are at war and cannot afford major defense cuts yet. Clearly, the Tea Party cannot take much heart from these reactions. But the panel has also clearly struck a national nerve.

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