The War on the Trigger Is Next

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With the Super Committee officially dead, lobbyists, politicians and Pentagon officials are racing to repeal the $600 billion in defense cuts scheduled to begin in 2013. The 2011 Budget Control Act, which created the Super Committee, called for $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts on domestic and military spending if the 12-member Super Committee failed to reach an agreement. Now that that's happened, the push to unwind the defense portion of the trigger has begun in earnest. Here is the phalanx of forces working to destroy it.

The lawmakers Just as the Super Committee raised its white flag today, Sen. John McCain tweeted a message calling on Congress to "prevent #defense cuts that threaten our nat'l security." The tweet linked to a press release signed by him and South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham. “As every military and civilian defense official has stated, these cuts represent a threat to the national security interests of the United States, and cannot be allowed to occur" they wrote. The two Senators are by no means alone. As Politico reports, Republican Congressman Buck McKeon, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee has vowed to introduce legislation repealing the defense cuts. “I will not be the armed services chairman who presides over crippling our military,” he said just before the Super Committee admitted defeat Monday afternoon." Graham and McCain also suggested they were considering introducing legislation, saying "we are now working on a plan to minimize the impact of the sequester."

The lobbyists The big names in the defense industry (Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman) are all working overtime to gut the cuts, reports Reuters. "Behind the scenes, these companies have been sharpening their knives to fight each other as each struggles to maintain its share of a shrinking defense budget," reports Andrea Shalal-Esa. She speaks with a lobbyist who says

"We'll do whatever it takes to make sure we get a bigger slice of a smaller pie." The strategy of one the more prominent trade groups, the Aerospace Industries Association, is to pin the defense cuts to job losses. "AIA has met with over 100 lawmakers, hired outside experts to research the effect of cuts, and recently warned that 1 million jobs were at stake if further cuts go into effect."

The Pentagon Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has made the trigger his main enemy in recent months.  “This mechanism would force defense cuts that would do catastrophic damage to our military and its ability to protect the country," he said at a convention in Washington, D.C. "It would double the number of cuts that we confront and it would damage our interests not only here, but around the world." According to Reuters, defense lobbyists are grateful. "Panetta's better than any lobbyist we could hire," said a lobbyist interviewed by the news service.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.