McCain Opens Door to Revenue Hike to Avoid Defense Cuts

Photograph by Sebastiano Tomada/Sipa USA AP Images

A U.S. Air Force Joint terminal attack controller (JTAC) soldier on patrol in a remote village in Kunar's Pech River Valley.

Republican Senator John McCain signaled support today for some kind of revenue boost to avoid automatic defense cuts slated to take effect in January.

Citing a Republican deficit-reduction plan last year that included new tax revenue, McCain said, “That could serve as a blueprint.” The Arizona senator, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, spoke at a Bloomberg Government conference on defense strategy in Washington.

The Pentagon, which already plans to slow spending by $487 billion over ten years, would have to make another $500 billion in cuts in the next decade unless Congress comes up with an alternative deal on deficit reduction.

Representative Norm Dicks, a Democrat from Washington who sits on the House Appropriations Committee, said he’d like to see “positive steps taken” on a legislative fix before the November election.

Many lawmakers have said such a fix probably won’t happen until a lame-duck session of Congress after the election. Dov Zakheim, a former Pentagon comptroller, echoed that assessment today at the conference.

“I don’t think this Congress can cut the deal,” he told lawmakers in a panel discussion. “If you could cut the deal, you already would have done so.”

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