BY ANNA YUKHANANOV AND JIM WOLF
August 11, 2011
(Reuters) – With as much as $1.5 trillion in federal funds hanging in the balance, the mammoth healthcare and defense industries are scrambling to lobby a special congressional committee tasked with slashing the deficit — but in markedly different ways.
The 12-member bipartisan joint “super committee” is expected to focus heavily on both pricey government health insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and the Pentagon budget, which accounts for about half of non-mandated federal spending.
But the similarities end there.
The Pentagon is warning of Doomsday if the committee fails to act through a combination of spending reductions and revenue increases, triggering automatic cuts of about $600 billion each in defense and non-defense accounts.
“This is do or die,” said Michael Herson, president of American Defense International (ADI), a Washington-based government affairs consultancy. Herson, whose clients include Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Co and United Technologies Corp UTX.N>, said he had never seen the industry come together for such a concerted campaign.