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Budget Cuts Could Force Army and Marines to Cut 200,000 Troops

5:04 PM, Feb 27, 2013 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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So the sequestration fight doesn't present Republicans with any good options. House Republicans passed bills in the last Congress to redistribute sequestration's nearly $500 billion in defense cuts to other programs, but President Obama and Senate Democrats say they're not willing to negotiate a "cuts-only" deal. They want another big tax hike on top of the $600 billion tax hike they got on January 1 in the "fiscal cliff" deal. And they want to keep most of the defense cuts. What they really want, most of all, is to break the Republican party and win back the House in 2014.

Some Republicans have floated the idea of giving Obama more flexibility in implementing sequestration, but that carries its own risks. "If you just give the president a blank check," one congressional aide told me, "he will force the military to do things that are in the long-term very unwise ... base closures, divesting of significant naval assets, divesting of significant aircraft and drone assets."

Another option for Republicans is to call for suspending the sequester in whole or in part. That runs counter to the mantra of many House conservatives that the "only thing worse than defense cuts is no cuts at all." But is that really true? It would be one thing to cut a trillion dollars from the military as part of a plan to avert a debt crisis, as Senator Tom Coburn proposed. But weakening the military without solving the debt problem? Without even making a serious dent in it? What good is that? What will happen to an already-weakened military if and when a debt crisis actually hits?

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