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Real federal budget legislation needed

BY MARK TARPLEY Published: May 12, 2012

The Budget Control Act of 2011 had the good intentions of controlling spending while approving an increase in the U.S. debt limit. The intent was to provide an increase to the debt limit while beginning a long-overdue effort to cut federal government spending.

As an incentive, the act mandated that approximately $1.2 trillion in budget cuts would kick in if Congress failed to enact legislation to cut a similar amount over the next 10 years. It further stipulated that half of these cuts must come from the U.S. Department of Defense.

In short, if Congress doesn't develop a specific budget meeting the targets for spending cuts, then an automatic cut of about $600 billion is forced on the Department of Defense. This would be on top of the $487 billion in cuts for the next 10 years identified in the 2013 DOD budget proposal.

The secretary of defense has already said that the sequestration cuts would be devastating. Current budgets meet the revised strategy that now focuses on the Asian-Pacific and Middle East regions. Those missions, while difficult, were possible within the $487 billion cuts identified in the 2013 defense budget. To lay on top of those cuts the additional $600 billion would essentially throw out the underlying assumptions and budgetary premises enabling DOD and the Air Force to meet those strategic tasks.

The Oklahoma City and Tinker Air Force Base impact needs to be articulated. These massive cuts will ultimately force tougher decisions on the Air Force to choose between force modernization (new weapons systems) or sustainment of an already aging fleet of aircraft. Sustainment — the maintenance, repair and overhaul of aircraft and their engines — is the heart of Tinker's mission. As sustainment dollars are cut, the impact will be felt at Tinker.

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