Pentagon Officials Urge Lawmakers To Find Savings In Medicare
As the yet-to-be named members of the debt deal's 'super committee' set to work, Pentagon officials say deep cuts in defense spending will place the nation's security at risk. Meanwhile, one of the defense budget's fastest growing line items is health care costs.
The New York Times: Panetta Pleads No More Cuts In Defense Spending
Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta effectively told Congress on Thursday to raise taxes and cut Social Security and Medicare before taking another swipe at the Pentagon budget beyond defense cuts already called for in the debt-ceiling deal (Bumiller, 8/4).
The Washington Post: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Warns Against More Cuts In Pentagon Budget
Senior Pentagon officials have launched an offensive over the past two days to convince lawmakers that further reductions in Pentagon spending would imperil the country's security. Instead of slashing defense, Panetta said, the bipartisan panel should rely on tax increases and cuts to nondiscretionary spending, such as Medicare and Social Security, to provide the necessary savings (Jaffe and Ukman, 8/4).
The Associated Press: Angst In Military Over Pentagon Cuts
From the helicopters they fly to the base housing where their children sleep at night, U.S troops and their families are directly affected by the prospect of deep cuts in the Pentagon's budget. And the troops' concerns don't end when they take off the uniform: Many retirees are dependent on the military's health insurance. One of the most costly programs for the Defense Department is health care coverage for some 10 million active duty personnel, retirees, reservists and their families. The cost has jumped from $19 billion in 2001 to $53 billion now. Obama proposed increasing the fees for working-age retirees enrolled in the decades-old health program known as TRICARE, but has encountered resistance from lawmakers and various associations for military retirees. Debt-limit negotiators looked at changes in TRICARE for possible savings, and the special bipartisan committee is likely to consider the program in its calculations (8/5).
In related news, here's a look at who might be on the short list for membership on the super committee -
The Fiscal Times: Deficit Super Committee: A Peek at the Short List
Even before the ink on the debt ceiling deal has dried, speculation is mounting about who will serve on a new joint House-Senate committee to recommend $1.5 trillion of long term savings to Congress before the end of the year. ... Obama repeatedly called for a "balanced" approach to long term deficit reduction - combining savings in Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs with increased taxes on the wealthiest Americans and corporations. ... [Arizona Republican Sen. John] Kyl told The Fiscal Times that the primary goal of the committee will be "entitlement savings" (Pianin and DePaul, 8/4).