Believing that they have a mandate from voters, Republican lawmakers are vowing to curb federal spending and impose cost-saving measures to help reduce the deficit when the new Congress convenes on January 5. Some aren't even waiting; GOP senators on December 16 successfully beat back efforts to pass a $1.108 trillion omnibus spending package in the waning days of the 111th Congress.
Marion Blakey, the head of the Aerospace Industries Association, who released her forecast for 2011, expressed concern that pressure for deficit reduction could lead to defense budget cuts that will slow military aircraft procurement. "Certainly the next Congress is going to be a challenge," she said. But national security industry officials and investors who closely follow defense, homeland security, and intelligence spending said at a recent security conference in Washington that they could foresee cuts coming for large, labor-intensive platforms like the Air Force F-22 Raptor and Navy DDG-1000 destroyer programs. But they projected that some sectors would continue to see robust growth, such as cybersecurity; biometrics and identity verification systems; and critical infrastructure protection.
Should there be significant shifts in spending priorities away from major new weapons platforms to robotic systems, defense electronics and emerging areas like cybersecurity? Should much of the spending be refocused onto research and development of both short-term and long-term innovations? Given the array of security threats, from foreign launched cyber attacks and undetectable explosives aboard cargo and passenger planes to nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea and roadside bombs in Afghanistan -- the biggest killer of U.S. troops -- which national security spending programs should be spared the ax of the deficit cutters?