Defense Associations Struggle to Fight Potential Cuts

With the Pentagon facing a $54 billion automatic cut, key defense groups are fighting an uphill battle in Congress.

With congressional gridlock near an all-time high, a sense of futility is setting in for many defense-related associations fighting budget cuts.

The Budget Control Act, enacted in an effort to create a fail-safe solution in case of a budget stalemate in Congress, will lead to billions in cuts if a compromise can’t be reached by January 2, according to a Reuters report — particularly in the defense industry. The Pentagon alone would receive $54 billion in cuts due to sequestration.

Everyone is nervous and worried. There’s a hopelessness with regard to the federal government and Congress generally.

“Everyone is nervous and worried. There’s a hopelessness with regard to the federal government and Congress generally,” said lobbyist Caren Turner, who has worked with many defense industry firms.

Among the associations attempting to fight the cuts:

  • The Aerospace Industries Association has taken a particularly urgent stance on the issue, recently producing a study suggesting that more than 2 million jobs would be lost, and small businesses would feel the brunt. “Further analysis shows that nearly half of all sequestration job losses would come from small businesses,” said Stephen S. Fuller of George Mason University.
  • The Air Force Association’s acting president, David T. “Buck” Buckwalter, wrote about the dangers the defense industry is facing in an August note [PDF]: “Every service chief has gone on record to say that the effects of sequestration will be devastating, and AFA urges bipartisan agreement to prevent this clause of the Budget Control Act of 2011 from taking place.”

And public support to break through the gridlock may be hard to find. While a recent Reuters poll showed that just 10 percent to 11 percent of respondents would accept cuts to social programs such as Medicare or Social Security, roughly 34 percent of people were comfortable with defense cuts.

How could a gridlocked Congress affect your association’s interests?

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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