President Obama has not taken our country’s precarious debt situation seriously. When forced by Congress to revise his budget earlier this year, Defense was the only department targeted for cuts. Last summer’s Budget Control Act legislated further reductions for this year’s budget and portends even more significant cuts in the out years of the coming decade. Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently unveiled a sensible set of choices for the coming year, but unfortunately failed to account for hundreds of billions of dollars that still must be found under the terms of last summer’s legislation. Unless they provide a better blueprint for spending, across-the-board cuts will come into effect in January 2013. And, as Panetta himself has said, not just the budget choices but the entire Pentagon strategy would collapse with any further cuts.
In addition to producing a budget willfully ignorant of further cuts, the White House has avoided any serious discussion of the hazards of cutting spending this deeply. The president is trying to have it both ways, cutting defense while pretending there is no risk associated with the cuts. At his Pentagon press conference in January, Obama said that “yes, our military will be leaner, but the world must know—the United States is going to maintain our military superiority.” But neither he nor Panetta has produced a plan that gives credence to the claim.