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  • Don't Look at Pentagon Budget to Cut Back on Federal Spending

    Hope is not a strategy. Last month’s elections made that clear.

    Through the year, polls consistently revealed the unpopularity of Obamacare, deep concern about excessive spending, and misgivings about how the things are going in Iran and Afghanistan. Yet all the way up to the elections, progressives hoped that Americans would somehow like Obamacare, think the stimulus was working, and feel we were winning against our worldwide adversaries.

    Nov. 2 dashed those hopes. But progressives have a new hope now, bigger than ever and just as divorced from reality as was the old.

    Americans want spending cut. Progressives got that message loud and clear. But the Left doesn’t want to cut its programs. And, unfortunately, the Left likes just about every program out there, except one: defense.

    Here’s where the hope part comes in. Progressives hope fiscal conservatives will make common cause with them to insist that steep defense cuts be part of any package to balance the budget.

    It’s a forlorn hope, however. One based on a lie.

    Washington does not have to compromise our safety to get its fiscal house in order. Just ask Brian Riedl, the Heritage Foundation budget analyst who recently identified how Washington could cut spending by $343 billion without depriving our fighting men and women of one thin dime.

    Rather than try to balance the budget on the backs of our all-volunteer forces, Riedl concentrated on discretionary nondefense spending, looking for opportunities to consolidate duplicative programs, end outdated and ineffective programs, and eliminate waste, fraud, and abuse. That’s the smart way to go.

    If Washington can save $100 million by “tightening controls on federal employee credit cards and cutting down on delinquencies,” it makes more sense to do that than to deprive our troops of $100 million needed to assure their success in the field.

    What about wasteful spending in the Pentagon? Sure, there is some there too. The armed forces, for example, could save $35 billion just by modernizing their logistics practices. But money saved by the reforming Pentagon practices needs to be reinvested in our armed forces, not diverted to fund nonmilitary programs.

    The reason is that we are already woefully underfunding our defenses. America cashed out a huge “peace dividend” at the end of the Cold War. But while Washington dialed back Pentagon funding, it didn’t dial back on the missions.

    Indeed, mission tempo stepped up — from military operations in Bosnia, Kuwait, Iran and Afghanistan to mercy missions providing global relief from earthquakes, tsunamis and other natural and man-made disasters.

    After decades of underfunding and overuse, our military resources are badly frayed.

    Today, we have fewer ships at sea than anytime since before World War I. Most of our aircraft are far older than their pilots. All the uniformed services are having to protect America’s interests around the world with less.

    Yes, we’ve spent hundreds of billions on the Long War. But last year we shelled out far more in “stimulus” spending than on fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. And little of that hot-war money has gone toward rebuilding the post-Cold War military.

    We can give the nation the military it needs, but not if we cut the defense budget. Squeeze savings out of the Pentagon budget by all means, but reinvest those savings in missile defense and modernization programs able to overcome future threats.

    Americans want smaller government, but not less national security. If progressives think they can persuade Washington’s freshman class of small-government conservatives to join them in gutting defense, they’re going to be disappointed — again.

    Cross-posted at The Washington Examiner.

    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    10 Responses to Don't Look at Pentagon Budget to Cut Back on Federal Spending

    1. George Colgrove, VA says:

      Very good article! We need to read more of this kind of stuff. We can – and should – cut droves of wasteful spending (and you began bringing up some examples,) and then reinvest that into our National Defense and Security. Every little cut will create big savings when added all together! It is an act of decreasing the size and scope of government at the same time dramatically increasing defense spending. We need to do both. The result is level overall spending in the DoD but cutting elsewhere else.

      “If Washington can save $100 million by “tightening controls on federal employee credit cards and cutting down on delinquencies,” it makes more sense to do that than to deprive our troops of $100 million needed to assure their success in the field.” -> YES!

      “What about wasteful spending in the Pentagon? Sure, there is some there too. The armed forces, for example, could save $35 billion just by modernizing their logistics practices. But money saved by the reforming Pentagon practices needs to be reinvested in our armed forces, not diverted to fund nonmilitary programs.” -> YES!

      “We can give the nation the military it needs, but not if we cut the defense budget. <>, but <> those savings in missile defense and modernization programs able to overcome future threats.” -> ABSOLUTELY!

      Thank you Conn!

    2. Shannon, Chicago says:

      Excellent points made.

      Just remember that America voted for hope and change; Americans need to watch what they wish for because change is exactly what we are getting right now.

      We can only pray that Mr Obama's radical changes remain too extreme for the voters come 2012. He did a great job pushing his changes to the point of extreme up to this point in his Presidency thus helping the mid-terms damage the left…yippee. Check out http://www.takingonissues.com

    3. Jamie Friedland, DC says:

      "But money saved by the reforming Pentagon practices needs to be reinvested in our armed forces, not diverted to fund nonmilitary programs."

      This doesn't even pass for logic. If you can improve effectiveness for less, then you do it. The notion that the numerical defense budget is inviolable regardless of what is being accomplished with the money is downright silly.

      If you want increases in defense spending, argue that point, but there is no logical reason why efficiency in defense spending can't help reduce the deficit.

      This argument, like your skin-deep deficit worship, is just one of many rhetorical backflips you are your party are employing to obstruct economic recovery during a Democratic administration – in this case under the guise of patriotism.

    4. Pingback: PA Pundits - International

    5. R Holland, Chandler, says:

      Cut the federal budget across the board 5% per year for the next 5-7 years. Delete whole departments such as the Education Dept. Go to a flat tax system for everyone. Deduct the first $5K for each person up to $20K per family. Then everyone pay the same flat tax. Bring all troops home within 5 years. Only marines to protect embassies and special ops should be overseas. Stop all aid to other countries with in 5 years. Tell the UN it has 10 years to find a new home. Do not turn our backs on Russia or China for they will stab us in the back at every turn.

      Constitutional amendments

      1. Balanced budget.

      2. Line item veto.

      3. Term limits for congress.

    6. Thadd Buzan Springfi says:

      Thanks for making this important point. When you put defense spending in the context of the total federal budget and GDP, it becomes even more clear that our defense establishment should not and cannot be the source of budget reductions–if you still want a credible defense establishment, that is. The annual defense budget is now only just over 15% of the total Federal budget, or the same size as the interest payment on the debt! I believe this is the lowest percentage since the 1920's, when our military forces were radically downsized after WWI and unprepared for any significant conflict.

      Please continue to emphasize this important issue as Congress begins the hard work of shrinking our bloated Federal budget.

    7. Pingback: Don’t Look at Pentagon Budget to Cut Back on Federal Spending | church growth ministry

    8. Wildcat from Dallast says:

      As a veteran who served honorably during the Reagan and (first) Bush then displaced into the so-called “Peace Dividend” I can state that many of my fellow professionals in the profession of arms fought by way of AUSA to not reduce the size of the active component in the 1991/1992 timeframe due to our knowledge of emerging threats around the globe. We were well aware of that the preponderance of the previous defense budgets was based upon countering the Soviet (and Warsaw Pact) threat which had since gone the way of the dinosaur. However, much work was left undone in Iraq since Saddam Hussein was still in power and the Iraqi’s were already far from complying with the unfettered UN inspections of questionable sites relative to WMD research & development, production and storage. Other, more insidious threats were developing in Africa (Somalia), Afghanistan (due to the previous pullout by the Soviets during the late 1980’s and the rise of the Taliban) as well as some of tenuous situations remaining in Iran and North Korea. And these were realized by simply analyzing information being broadcasted in public by various media outlets. We didn’t leave out the Islamic extremists groups that dotted the Middle East such as Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Hamas. The PLO and others; it was that many in Congress could not fathom them as a threat to our way of life.

      Jamie from DC needs to really pay attention to the remainder of my post and, of course, read the 9/11 Commission Report to obtain a more comprehensive picture concerning what is at stake when you cut defense spending but waste it on social programs having only the negative side effects without any side or direct benefits.

      Remember back to the Iran-Contra hearings when USMC LTC Oliver North testified that he did not think it was unreasonable to have a security system that costs $22,000 installed at his residence to protect him and his family? Then Sen. Al Gore asked why. LTC North’s response was that the most evil man he has ever studied by the name of Osama Bin Laden was growing in power and wanted to bring down America! Sen. Gore couldn’t even pronounce Bin Laden’s name back in 1987 much less comprehend the magnitude of hate he and his followers have for America.

      Now go and read the 9/11 Commission’s Report to get a better understanding of who our arch enemy continues to be and why. Very early in the preface the commission details what the goals of the new terrorism are and that the concept of collateral damage is not in their lexicon. When you get to the part where the commission describes the foundation of Islamic Terrorism threat they begin with Bin Laden, when he issued his personal fatwa’s and why. Every American should read this entire report. School students should be required to read this report and compare and contrast it to reports in various media outlets and citizens from all non-Islamic countries should read this report too.

      We as a nation didn’t need to cut the most critical resource of defense, its people; it needed to transform the forces to absolutely counter the emerging threats. What they (the Congress) did was to chop away the junior field grade officers and middle grade NCO’s so much that we have experienced a significant shortage for some time and it only is getting worse.

      The bottom line is that we need to cut waste and inefficiencies from the defense budget and re-invest in it to build the capabilities we need to meet our Constitutional requirements relative to providing for the national defense. Other than possibly getting rid of entire departments that have failed their charter (or mission) since inception, such as the Department of Energy [which was to get us energy independent thereby free from foreign oil] and perhaps the Department of Education as that is better controlled at a local level; the immediate curtailing of unnecessary so-called entitlements that put a strain on the economy, rip at the fabric of the American family and cost us enormous sums of taxpayer dollars such as those created by the “Great Society” and since relative to personal choices to have families they cannot afford and paying for illegal immigrants education etc out of Social Security funds. The savings on those alone as well as from repealing “Obamacare” ought to provide a solid start in balancing the budget while providing for National Defense.

    9. Jamie, DC says:

      Hi Wildcat, I read your post and paid attention where you suggested I do so. I am not currently arguing that we need to decrease the defense budget. That I believe we should does not factor into this argument.

      What I am saying is that both this blog post and your response conflate two separate issues: increasing the efficiency of the defense dept and increasing the defense budget. Streamlining DOD could/would be done in the name of reducing gov't waste and/or the deficit. Fine.

      Once that is done, we arrive at the second, separate issue of whether, now that you are getting at least the same efficacy from our more efficient and fewer defense dollars, the defense budget ought to be increased because our country is not secure. Fine.

      Then we can have that argument. But the two are not intrinsically linked. Only for political expediency and gamesmanship are these two separate arguments intentionally or accidentally bundled into one.

    10. Pingback: Don't Look during Pentagon Budget to Cut | church growth ministry

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