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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Playing defense

Joe Donnelly on "dangerous" spending cuts:

Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., warned Monday that congressional budget cuts could shortchange the U.S. military and its suppliers – as well as America’s security.

“We don’t want to go to the point where it endangers the companies that have enabled us to protect our nation and to keep our nation going forward,” Donnelly, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told news media after a tour of ITT Exelis in Fort Wayne.

The freshman senator from Granger said ongoing budget reductions known as sequestration should be “in spending across much of the federal spectrum” and “just not focused on defense and on (social) service programs. … It’s something we have to fix and we have to do in a better way.”

Sequestration has trimmed $37 billion from Pentagon spending in fiscal 2013 and will chop $52 billion more in fiscal 2014 under the Budget Control Act. Without congressional action, the law would slash $1.2 trillion in federal spending over 10 years, nearly half of it from the Department of Defense.

In general I agree with those sentiments (although much more strongly for defense than social service programs). Despite all the hysterics over economic showdowns and sequestration, Big Government is "mostly unchanged," as even the Washington Post acknowledges. The federal government is on pace to spend $3.455 trillion this year, down a tiny, tiny bit from the $3.457 trillion spend in 2010. It's sublimely insidious to take so much of the money from defense, since that's one of the few things government does these days that's actually constitutinally authorized.

But I'm reluctant to believe our defense is seriously compromised by the defense cuts required sequestration, maybe big in comparison to cuts elsewhere but still relatively miniscule. And I doubt if Donnelly would be all that upset if Congress simply ended sequestation and went back to the usual spending levels. He is a Democrat, after all.