Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

October 22, 2010

PENTAGON BUDGET CUTS HAVE TO BE ON THE TABLE.... I continue to believe in a simple litmus test -- if you claim to believe in fiscal responsibility and want to cut the deficit, you can't insist that the Pentagon budget is untouchable. It's an immediate credibility killer, reflecting a fundamental lack of seriousness about the subject.

The Wall Street Journal reports today that the Republican Party line on this remains ambiguous, and "whether major cuts to military spending will be on the table remains unresolved."

The GOP's Pledge to America platform calls for fiscal austerity but makes notable exceptions for the military. Marco Rubio, the party's Senate nominee in Florida, for instance, generally supports efforts to trim federal spending but opposes specific measures to roll back defense budgets. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who commands a following among tea-party groups, has said publicly that defense shouldn't be touched.

Those on the right resisting any reductions in military spending are actually pretty plentiful -- and powerful. Arthur Brooks, Ed Feulner, and Bill Kristol recently made the case that slashing spending would be a good idea, just as soon as policymakers agree to put a fence around the Pentagon budget so it's protected. The American Enterprise Institute, the Foreign Policy Initiative, and the Heritage Foundation recently issued a report making the same case.

It's important to emphasize, though, that the right isn't united on this one. A lot of Tea Partiers have endorsed Pentagon cuts, and we've heard some encouraging rhetoric in recent weeks from Illinois' Mark Kirk (R), Georgia's Johnny Isakson (R), and Kentucky's Rand Paul (R). Even Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the ranking member on the House Budget Committee, conceded recently, "The Pentagon's budget itself is not working right, so there are billions of dollars of waste you can get out of the Pentagon, lots of procurement waste. We're buying some weapons systems I would argue you don't need anymore."

What's more, a Sustainable Defense Task Force, led by Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas), but featuring 55 other lawmakers from both parties, recently sent a letter to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, recommending sensible, responsible cuts to the Pentagon budget.

This shouldn't even be controversial. Defense spending will top $700 billion in the next fiscal year. For so many Republicans to insist that we cut spending, but deliberately ignore the largest discretionary portion of the budget, is absurd.

The United States now spends about as much on defense as every other country on the planet combined. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said, publicly and repeatedly, that the United States can't keep spending such vast amounts of money on the military indefinitely. It's simply unsustainable.

It's the first hurdle that has to be cleared for the rest of the fiscal discussion to even get underway. Those who claim credibility on the subject, but believe a bloated Pentagon budget is untouchable, shouldn't even be part of the conversation.

Steve Benen 2:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

Bookmark and Share
 
Comments

And the answer to those who say we should emulate the UK: Fine, we will cut the defense budget 8%, like they have.

Posted by: Tigershark on October 22, 2010 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Look at the lobbyists, see who fronts who ...

Posted by: neil b on October 22, 2010 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

interesting discussion on Lawrence O'donnell's show last night about this. Bipartisan 'committee' proposed cutting by getting rid of programs for weapons, bases, etc that are cold/conventional war dependent. Move to the smaller more mobile forces that our current world requires. They came up with big potential savings.

Posted by: k l m on October 22, 2010 at 2:19 PM | PERMALINK

What's left to defend?
The poor are getting poorer.
We torture.
We arrest a higher percentage of our population than any other country.
We've sold out our ideals to the highest bidder. We've sold our our Congress to the highest bidder.
Our water getting fouler.
We blast the tops off of mountains for corporations to make a profit, then leave the clean-up bill to the poor people who live nearby.

We suck. And unless we improve, why bother defending us? I know in the rightie mind, we're the greatest, bestest, most libertyest, freemest country in the world, but, wake-up folks, whatever claim we might once have had, Bush II pissed it away. And, sadly, Obama's not exactly rectifying the situation.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on October 22, 2010 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

"...The United States now spends about as much on defense as every other country on the planet combined..." times 2 is the real number.

Perhaps the pentagon can come up with the over $3 Trillion they seem to have 'lost' and can't account for. How can the military 'misplace' or lose $3 Trillion. If the lost $3 Trillion were included in their current funding with the note that we will consider they have it or better come up with it as it will not be replaced I wonder what would happen...new deals with the CIA for international drug trafficking profits?

We allowed the DoD to operate without accountability and they lost or misplaced $3 trillion and the GOP's answer to this is more please. We allowed the DoD to outsource military services at huge expense to groups like KBR and Blackwater who overcharged and in many cases never even provided contracted services or works and the GOP says more please.

Privatizing the military only produces huge profits at taxpayer's expense and this profiteering accounts for nearly half the military budget. World domination encourages insurgencies. Draft the wealthy to do the fighting along with these armchair war hawks and war would quickly dissipate.

With our huge military it took only 9 terrorists to throw our nation into complete turmoil. Using "criminal acts" as acts of war. We don't need a military who fight for the united corporations of America with their war profiteering contractors egging them on.

Posted by: bjobotts on October 22, 2010 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

Dream on, Steve.

Posted by: Fantasy on October 22, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

All the money goes to the military ("defending" the nation from: what?), while the population suffers rampant unemployment, malnutrition, and a third world manufacturing base.

I'm speaking about, of course, North Korea. . .

Posted by: DAY on October 22, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

The GOP's Pledge to America platform calls for fiscal austerity but makes notable exceptions for the military. Marco Rubio, the party's Senate nominee in Florida, for instance, generally supports efforts to trim federal spending but opposes specific measures to roll back defense budgets. Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who commands a following among tea-party groups, has said publicly that defense shouldn't be touched.

You're being too generous in characterizing that position as "ambiguous." It's a fundamentally childlike and untenable approach to budget management, nothing more, nothing less.

Posted by: dr. bloor on October 22, 2010 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Twenty years ago the cold war ended. We spent 40 years locked in a conflict with a country quite literally capable of ending all life on the planet. A country of millions with a large number of allies. A nation that spent billions on defense had a huge standing army.

We now face an enemy that probably numbers in the 10s of thousands at most. Is at best loosely organized, poorly trained, poorly equiped and scattered. And yet we are actually spending MORE to combat that enemy than the we did the Soviet Union.

Posted by: thorin-1 on October 22, 2010 at 2:54 PM | PERMALINK

yeah, but think how much more expensive gasoline would be if we didn't fund our defense department keeping the middle east shipping lanes open...$1 trillion for $3 a gallon gas...such a bargin

Posted by: dj spellchecka on October 22, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

I hate to nitpick, but strictly speaking this:

"...if you claim to believe in fiscal responsibility and want to cut the deficit, you can't insist that the Pentagon budget is untouchable

isn't true. I think you mean:

...if you claim to believe in fiscal responsibility and want to cut the deficit without raising taxes, you can't insist that the Pentagon budget is untouchable.

This latter I can agree with, but in fact, it's long past time to both cut the pentagon and raise taxes.

Posted by: kishin on October 22, 2010 at 3:09 PM | PERMALINK

Did any of you want The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell last night? He met with 2 Republicans and 2 Democrats (all retired) to find out how they would balance the budget. They went at it hammer and nail for three days and provided their results last night. It was truly impressive. They did not agree on everything but compromised and put a good plan together. THEN they all agreed that today's Congress doesn't have the cajones to do something like this.......

Posted by: SYSPROG on October 22, 2010 at 3:43 PM | PERMALINK

Not only would they not raise taxes, they'd also cut everything first then spend that money on increased defense spending. They're all frauds.

Posted by: philonius on October 22, 2010 at 4:27 PM | PERMALINK

The United States now spends about as much on defense as every other country on the planet combined.

Of course,,, we can't have them (every other country on the planet) outspending the us.

It's US against them &
You're either one of US or you're every other country on the planet combined.

Posted by: cwolf on October 22, 2010 at 6:59 PM | PERMALINK

i will start out......first cut all funding to media, see where this is going.

Posted by: jm on October 22, 2010 at 7:55 PM | PERMALINK

"The United States now spends about as much on defense as every other country on the planet combined."

This makes great sense to me, since the way we are going th world may come to the conclusion that we are a problem that has to be dealt with collectively.

Posted by: richard on October 29, 2010 at 7:47 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

Read Jonathan Rowe remembrance and articles
Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon Sign up for Free News & Updates

Advertise in WM



buy from Amazon and
support the Monthly