In spite of the massive flooding in Binghamton, I'm finding some time to focus on something else.
So hey, remember the debt deal? Sure you do. Well things are already off to a great start with that bipartisan commission. Apparently Senator John Kyl is threatening to leave the bipartisan commission if defense spending remains on the table. Kyl says that even Defense Secretary Panetta, and former Secretary Gates said enough was enough on defense cuts.
In fact, I'm pretty sure that's not what Panetta said. I'm pretty sure Panetta has said that up to $350 billion more would be feasible. Beyond that and security might take a hit. As I understand it, Panetta was saying that beyond what was already cut as a part of the debt deal, an additional $350 billion over ten years could be cut.
So what does Kyl get out of this? Didn't he get the memo? Bipartisanship is IN! Oh, that's right…
If the 12-person congressional committee fails to come up with a plan to make those additional cuts, that would trigger $600 billion in defense-spending reductions. And Arizona is one of the top half-dozen or so states in the nation in terms of the defense industry's footprint.
The industry already has felt the ripple effect of military efforts to wind down the U.S. presence in Iraq. After leveling off in 2009, Defense Department contracts in Arizona in fiscal 2010 dropped nearly 19 percent, to about $10 billion.
Defense and aerospace manufacturers employ about 37,000 Arizonans who earned $3.1 billion in salaries in 2008, according to the chamber's figures.
The Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and National Guard also employ 45,000 military and civilian personnel at nine Arizona military installations.
First, I guess it's possible that Kyl really wants an excuse to be off the panel. I really can't imagine defense cuts not being on the table in some form or another, and perhaps he's reluctant to be associated with the cuts that he know are inevitably coming down the line. Would he really gain any political points for quitting? Second, and alternatively, wouldn't Kyl be better off remaining on the panel to curb the potential losses that Arizona faces? Yes, there may be cuts, but could he effectively argue that those cuts would have been worse for Arizona had he not been there to guard against them?
Ultimately I guess this comes down to whether or not his threat to leave the panel is credible. What am I missing here?