McKeon blasts Gang of Six defense cuts

The powerful head of the House Armed Services Committee has blasted the Gang of Six deficit plan.

In a memo circulated to committee Republicans Wednesday, Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said that the plan's $866 billion in security cuts go too deep and that he was raising the concerns in addition to other GOP comments on the tax-reform proposals in the Gang plan.

“It is our belief that this proposal raises serious implications for defense and would not allow us to perform our constitutional responsibility to provide for the safety and security of our country. Nearly half of the discretionary savings in this proposal comes from defense,” he wrote.

The Gang of Six proposal, which is gaining bipartisan support in the Senate and from the White House, lays out a framework for $3.7 trillion in deficit reduction by 2021. After a $500 billion down payment, it leaves much of the details up to committees of jurisdiction.

McKeon in his memo quotes former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates from May attacking deep and broad defense cuts.

“That kind of 'salami-slicing' approach preserves overhead and maintains force structure on paper, but results in a hollowing-out of the force from a lack of proper training, maintenance and equipment — and manpower. That’s what happened in the 1970s — a disastrous period for our military — and to a lesser extent during the late 1990s,” Gates is quoted as saying.

The House passed-budget contained only $178 billion in security cuts over 10 years, with $78 billion being used for deficit reduction and the rest re-invested in defense. In debt-ceiling talks with the White House, the GOP has resisted inclusion of security in certain spending caps.