One of the more confusing positions for Democrats in the end-of-the-year “fiscal slope” negotiations concerns where they stand on the defense trigger. Obviously, with Republicans desperate to close these cuts, at least for the first year, Democrats have an opportunity to leverage that into a better deal. However, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has undermined that by asserting that great damage would be done to national security if so much as one dime under the Administration’s budget gets cut.

Now, Armed Services Committee Chair Carl Levin is working on an alternative solution, where the defense budget gets lowered in this fiscal year, to cushion the blow for the trigger cuts down the road.