As the country moves closer toward the fiscal cliff – the name given to automatic spending cuts and tax increases triggered should Congress not reach a deficit deal – there has been a sharp focus on what it could mean for the Armed Forces. However, lost in the fray has been the impact on the families of servicemembers and it turns out many of them are concerned about what the impending crisis could mean, according to Military.com.
The biggest source of concern is what the fiscal cliff would do to federal spending. While certain programs, such as Medicare, are likely to be exempt from the extensive budget cuts, those that help military families are not so lucky. Aside from paychecks, federal spending is responsible for important services such as schools on military bases and the important commissaries.
The impact of the fiscal cliff has already been felt in some places, where officials have taken steps to prepare for the possibility a deficit reduction deal is not met. For instance, at Randolph Air Force Base in Texas, the school system has already eliminated a number of positions in preparation for the expected cuts.
"We've done our best to prepare for the cuts, and I could not in good conscience mortgage the fiscal future of our district on the notion that the federal government may come through, and that sequestration may or may not happen," Billy Walker, the Randolph district school superintendent, told Stars and Stripes.
Of course, the discussion may be moot should lawmakers reach a compromise by the December 31 deadline. However, early discussions by Republicans and Democrats have made little progress. An initial offer presented by the White House was quickly rejected by Speaker of the House John Boehner, and a Republican counter proposal has been met with criticism as well.
The central issue of the debate is whether the wealthiest Americans should be taxed at a higher rate. President Barack Obama has steadfastly maintained that Americans making $250,000 or more a year should be taxed at Clinton-era levels, while Republicans counter that cutting loopholes and deductions is the best method of reducing the deficit, according to CNN.
Whatever the case may be, members of Congress have less than a month to reach an agreement or the Department of Defense will see an additional $500 billion in spending cuts over the next 10 years.