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  • No To Further Cuts In The Defense Budget

    The U.S. defense budget is currently inadequate to meet the nation’s security needs. Yet, a panel led by retired U.S. Senator Pete Domenici, the former Republican chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, and Alice Rivlin, budget director under President Clinton, has proposed to reduce the federal debt by making drastic cuts to the Pentagon’s budget. Defense spending, however, is not the cause of America’s fiscal woes. Rather, mandatory spending on entitlements and interest on our debt currently accounts for over 50 percent of the federal budget, while defense spending accounts for less than one-fifth.

    Noting that the defense budget has been growing since 9/11, some observers argue that there should be no problem with reducing defense. However, despite the post-9/11 budget increases, defense spending is still tight and core defense capabilities are being shortchanged.

    This is true even though current levels of defense spending are at near historic lows. Since 2001, defense spending lingers around 4 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while spending levels during World War II reached 38 percent, 14 percent during the Korean War, 10 percent during the Vietnam War, and 7 percent during the Cold War.

    Within defense, the need for increased investment in missile defense remains paramount. The threat of ballistic missiles from Iran and North Korea is rising. Having missile defenses in place would give the President an alternative to retaliating with a high-yield nuclear weapon in the case of a contingency crisis at home or abroad, as more than 30 countries throughout the world rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella. As the threat of missiles launched from Iran, North Korea, or coalitions of hostile parties grow, so does the need for more robust, comprehensive defenses—particularly when no matter where on Earth a missile is launched, it would take 33 minutes or less to destroy its intended target.

    Most Americans support spending what is necessary on defense, and a large majority of Americans, between 80 to 90 percent, support missile defense. But many are starting to realize the nation isn’t spending enough to maintain robust defensive capabilities.

    Indeed, missile defense spending consists of only 1.4 percent of the total defense budget—around $10 billion a year. Yet, despite the importance of missile defenses in fulfilling the government’s constitutional responsibility to provide for the common defense, this panel recommends shaving $5 billion off the budget for missile defenses. This recommendation comes on top of the Obama Administration’s massive cuts to missile defense last year (an overall reduction of over 15 percent of program spending) and scaling back of the number of ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California from 44 to 30. This short-sighted decision was presumably made to convince Russia and China that our defenses pose no significant capability against their missiles. By taking this step, the Administration is delaying critical added protection against long-range missile threats and reducing the missile interceptor force dedicated to protecting the U.S. homeland.

    Instead of cutting defense, the government needs to adopt a sensible and efficient defense budget. By maintaining sensible and stable defense budgets and adopting efficiencies in logistics and acquisition, we can find the funds for military modernization and provide a steady stream of funding for new, lower-cost, innovative equipment.

    In view of the growing ballistic missile threats to the United States and its allies and friends, the commission’s recommendation to balance the budget by making America less safe is completely irresponsible. Not only would these cuts leave America vulnerable to a resurgent threat, they would also send a clear message to countries like North Korea and Iran, as well as America’s own allies that the U.S. is no longer capable and willing to defend America’s interests.

    Matthew Foulger is a member of the Young Leaders Program at the Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    8 Responses to No To Further Cuts In The Defense Budget

    1. George Colgrove, VA says:

      "Instead of cutting defense, the government needs to adopt a sensible and *efficient* defense budget. By maintaining sensible and stable defense budgets and *adopting efficiencies in logistics and acquisition*, we can find the funds for military modernization and provide a steady stream of funding for new, lower-cost, innovative equipment."

    2. las vegas , nevada says:

      Whining and fear mongering due to the Military Industrial Complex.

      The Entire economy has undergone tremendous productivity increase and THE POOR WHINNERS want Americans to believe none of that should be expected of the military. Cut the defense 80%, remove 80% of all costs in Philippines, South Korea, England, Germany, Japan, PUT 20,000 on the Southern Border( u have surplus people when do the above)

      And WASTING lives and resources on mud-hut-Afghanistan/Iraq is testimony to the feverish religious zealots who shill for the Military Industrial Complex. We should listen to the founding fathers who said STAY OUT of foreign affairs, not to run the world like the Empire we ran away from.

    3. mike, VA says:

      las vegas , nevada: you're an idiot. go back to sticking your head in the sand and leave the defense of the country and it's citizens to the adults.

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    5. Kevin H, College Par says:

      The Repubs have been callign for spending cuts left and right, but refuse to give in to demands to allow any of the tax cuts to expire.

      I see you cite the constitutional duty for providing for common defense, but no mention of the constitutional duty to provide for the general welfare. You oppose health reform, even though it is similar to the reform your staff and Mitt Romney created for Mass., and even though CBO has determined it to decrease the deficit and help with the debt.

      You want debts and deficits to be dealt with by spending cuts alone, with no tax increases, but defense is not allowed to see any spending cuts. That's simply nonsense.

    6. Buck Crosby Hubert , says:

      No more defense cuts !!! We can cut all foreign aid , we can cut the department of education giving it back to the states , we can cut all farm subsidies , we can cut all government grants and loans , we can and need to cut all legislators pay in half , I could do this all day ,eliminating any need to leave us exposed to our enemies .

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    8. Gary Zaetz, Cary, No says:

      Our nation's efforts to recover our war dead are seriously threatened by the freeze on non-war discretionary defense spending recommended by the Rivlin-Domenici debt reduction commission. It is shameful that today, 65 years after the end of World War II, there are 74,000 American servicemen and servicewomen still missing from that conflict. A major reason for this failure is the fact that the Defense Department's Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) is severely underfunded. If JPAC is to meet the target of 200 MIA recoveries annually by 2015, as mandated by the 2010 National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Department needs, at a minimum, to triple the amount of funds it requests annually from Congress for field investigation teams, and Congress must appropriate these funds. Our commitment of 'no man left behind' is too important for the Defense Department to continue to treat JPAC like a neglected stepchild. All members of Congress must support this badly needed increase in funding for the recovery of the remains of our heroic missing servicemen. They and their families deserve no less.? JPAC must be exempted from any Defense Department budget freeze.

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