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  • Guest Blog: Rep. Michele Bachmann on the Defense for Defense Spending

    Our government is in a fiscal crisis. As debt skyrockets, the spending decisions before us in the coming months and years will have a deep impact on the future of our nation. Lawmakers and the American public must debate the merits and faults of each category of spending. But, as we work to reverse the tide of deficit spending, I urge that we exercise great caution before anyone takes a scalpel to the defense budget.

    Adequate funding is critical for our military, intelligence, and security agencies to fulfill their Constitutional duty to provide for the common defense. This is not a partisan issue and must not be a political one either. While the numbers are negotiable, and specific programs should be fully vetted, the underlying responsibility is undeniable. Defense funding deserves a high place in the priorities of this, and any, Congress.

    Defense spending is not the culprit when it comes to our nation’s debt, like some want you to believe. According to research from the Heritage Foundation, defense spending, as a percentage of GDP, is below its historical average. When the U.S. invaded Afghanistan, defense spending was at three percent. Ten years later it is only at five percent. Since 1965, the average has been 5.3 percent. To put this in perspective, defense spending during the Vietnam War peaked near ten percent, and it was around six percent for most of the 1980s. Blaming our budgetary woes on the military is reckless and misinformed.

    Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently said, “Given America’s difficult economic circumstances and parlous fiscal condition, military spending on things large and small can and should expect closer, harsher scrutiny.” I applaud Secretary Gates for his leadership on this, and many fronts. All Cabinet heads should be as introspective with their fiscal scrutiny. Still, while I encourage cost savings within the Department of Defense, I believe any money saved therein should stay within DoD to ensure America’s ability to project power, protect our interests abroad and keep our homeland safe. Consider the recent brave mission of a Navy SEAL team, under CIA direction, that took out the world’s most wanted terrorist. We were able to raid Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan because we have the finest intelligence agencies and the best-trained warriors in the world. These global capabilities require significant and sustained investments.

    All the liberties enjoyed by the citizens of a nation depend on, and stem from, the security of that nation. We are a nation at war, pitted against terrorists who are bent on destroying our nation and our very way of life. The enemy is adapting, evolving and plotting further attacks. We must be informed and always one step ahead. The security of America and the survival of her people rely heavily upon our ability to prosecute and win these wars. Investing in manpower, equipment and technology is a necessary part of that equation.

    Our armed forces keep us safe and free. They deserve gratitude, and in order to fulfill their Constitutional role, they deserve sufficient financial resources too.

    Michele Bachmann represents Minnesota’s Sixth District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

    The views expressed by guest bloggers on the Foundry do not necessarily reflect the views of The Heritage Foundation.

    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    29 Responses to Guest Blog: Rep. Michele Bachmann on the Defense for Defense Spending

    1. George Colgrove VA says:

      I like Rep. Bachmann, and thank her greatly for her comments. If you look at 90% of this post, she adequately makes the case in cutting the DoD smartly. Yet then she adds that “the money saved therein should stay in the DoD” This amounts to a gross DoD budget increase! That is not what the Tea Party put her in office for! Congress is at an all time low in perception (9%) for this kind of thinking.

      We need cuts and to expect those cuts to come from entitlements only is not practical. This year, more money will be “taken” from the federal government (i.e. the taxpayers) in entitlements than that same federal government will be able to extort from the taxpayers! We need to cut $1.6 trillion from the budget – that is the part of the federal government we cannot afford! We hand out $2.2 trillion in entitlements! Cutting out all the debt from the entitlements we end up with $600 billion in entitlements from the $2.2 trillion! Then attempt to pay off the FULL interest each year and some principal to boot, what do we end up with – zero entitlement and still a need to cut more!

      To reach a balanced budget we have to match expenses to revenue. Everything needs to be cut. If we cut the DoD budget those savings should not go back into creating brand new avenues for fraud, waste and redundancy. Those cuts should go to help reduce the annual deficits and hopefully quickly achieve a balanced budget the GOP was able to manage for a few years in the late 1990’s. This should be the number one issue for congress – as with no dollar there will be no country to defend!

      The DoD will be cut significantly – this is reality speaking. This debate is ended with Panetta taking the helm. The debate is now, who will be controlling those cuts? Will the cuts be in the military ranks and their required hardware or will it be in the heavy weight of the union federal worker based administration and unnecessary hardware? Will liberals control the cuts or will the conservatives control the cuts. I’d like to think once we invite reason into the debate, we conservatives can guide the ship. With the discussion continuing to be like this, I am afraid, the liberals will get first dabs and a final say.

      I am beginning to see a day when we will have more federal workers in the DoD than soldiers!!

    2. George Colgrove VA says:

      Average annual compensation for a special ops agent like those who recently were creditied with getting OBL is $54,000 after 12 years experince with minimal life time benefits. LESS than the private sector employee compensation of $61, 000!

      Average annual compensation for a federal worker is $123,000 and even much higher than that for those with 12 or more years experince with full life time benefits. There are 700,000 federal workers in the DoD.

      Where do we want to cut?

      It takes 8 federal workers to save a million dollars. Think of the many duplicative programs that exists not only in the DoD but elsewhere in the federal government. If you have a significant number of duplicative programs that has a couple GS15, a few GS14's and a few more GS13's the savings can be profound in eliminating workers alone – not to mention the residual savings that come from simplifying processes and procedures. Also consider the DoD has the largest number of upper level managers earning well over $150,000 in total compensation – per capita of any other federal office.

      There is room to cut!

    3. West Texan says:

      A leaner and meaner military is good. Sacrificing its overall mission capabilities to achieve this goal is not only bad, it's downright stupid. I'm glad to see Michelle standing up for federalism as designed and intended by our founders. If anything, the U.S. Congress should be working to help individual states takeover social entitlements where such services rightfully belong. This, of course, would require careful handling so as not to disrupt promised benefits to current recipients.

    4. Navy Brat, PA says:

      As a Fed. worker in Mechanicsburg, PA; if the world knew what was happening inside the building, there would be an uprising. There are no jobs to perform, but we still have all the GS-13, GS-14, GS-15 that don't even have a job. They don't even bother coming to work, but they sure are there when it is payday. If that isn't enough, we have projects that cost millions to perform and what we get in return is less than 100K$; but we continue. WHY? Because the DOD has so much money they can't figure out how to spend the money. The "working grade" is a GS-13 or maybe a lowly GS-12, but there are people that are doing the exact same work as them but being a GS-11. And, why is that? Because, as the GS-14s and GS-15s tell the lowly GS-11, we need you classified as "workers" because we need people to keep our average grade down. If that isn't enough? We have GS-14 that is just getting ready to retire and we hire 2 GS-13s, to do NOTHING, which is just what the GS-14 has done. We have so many interns that we can't even count them all. Each intern costs the Gov. over 300K$ in their 3 years. Then we have college students that the tax payers pay for their education. Who are they? A GS-13 niece and an Admiral's son. These programs were for the low income kids to get into Fed. Gov. That doesn't happen, it is just more of the kids that have parents/relatives at a high grade to milk the system by getting their kids into these programs. How about husbands and wives that do the same job, in the same building? What about the "share the wealth" and not allow this hierarchy from the higher grades to take advantage of Fed. employment.

      Why doesn't anyone check out what is going on at the Naval Sea Logistics Center and Naval Inventory Control Point in Mechanicsburg, PA? It is rampant with nepotism and college students that should have their already high payed gov. parents to pay for their own kids education. These places are so corrupt that there is no such thing as anyone getting a promotion, it is just given to whomever they want to give more money to. A promotion doesn't change their workload, it just pads their bank account.

    5. Stepman, NJ says:

      We need to bring the military home from defending other countries and place them on OUR BORDER. Without SECURE BORDERS, OUR Country will continue to be at risk. While a strong military is necessary to defend an empire, I ask "Are we a democracy or an empire?". Time to limit government and its employees. Time to VOTE OUT those that do not follow the Constitution.

      SECURE THE BORDER. ENFORCE THE LAW. NO AMNESTY. NO SHARIAH.

    6. Jay Seattle says:

      George Colgrove, I couldn't agree more with your post. We see this type of bait and switch way too much in government.

      “the money saved therein should stay in the DoD” Sigh.

      What happened to the Tea Party Bachmann? Was she carted off by aliens?

      Everything needs to be on the table, including the programs that we like. Show the Democrats and the American people that you are serious.

    7. New Yorker says:

      Rep. Michele Bachmann plays with numbers. The defense spending of the Bush years does not include the cost of the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. Would not matter if Rep Bachmann did not use the corresponding war costs when she tries to blame Obama for careless spending. This debate is a serious one and needs serious people to find serious solutions. When the military themselves say they do not need a second engine or propose spending cuts that the GOP opposes for clientellism motivations, this is not the example of serious people talking seriously about a serious topics… Traditionally, all totalitarism states have given more priority to military spending than health care for the elderly. I agree politics should stay out of this debate… unfortunately this Congress has not chosen that road.

    8. Richie, Louisiana says:

      I Served in the Air Force during the Carter administration, and the start of Reagen era, when the German Mark was so bad of an exchange rate, that if you had a family, pay was so low that you qualified for welfair. I didn't reenlist because I did not need the hassle. We don't need to be all over the world. We need to, close bases, bring troops home, pay them more, stop paying off contractors for the unusable crap they sell the military. There is a laundry list of things we need to do to improve our military.

    9. Madeline Haynes says:

      I agree with what you just wrote. We have 2 grandchildren over seas, this is a voluntary army. We should stand up for our military and be proud on them. Fund them and pray for them daily. Always use our military wisely and remember the reason we have free speech is our military is protecting that right daily. Speak kindly and tell the truth at all times. Thank you for helping our military.

      Sincerely,

      Madeline Haynes

    10. Joseph , Palm Bay Fl says:

      Very nice article. With all the things we could save money on, the military should be the last to get cuts. National defense in this day and age is very very important and to undermine it in any way could be very costly to our way of life. For those who get confused at the saying " our way of life " it means living free and protecting the constitution and all it stands for. Free market, freedom of speech, and the freedom to bear arms.Just to name a few. If anyone is confused about what this country is all about read the Declaration of Independence , the Constitution and the bill of rights. I hope all Americans believe and hold these documents close to their hearts. GOD BLESS AMERICA !!

    11. Dennis Pine, of Sara says:

      Ms. Bachmann: I just wish to say that I would like to see about 434 other reps like you in our House of Representatives. I would rest easier at night, knowing that there isn't so many sailors in the halls of Congress spending us all into "insolvency" like just so many "drunken Congress persons". I, personally, have a small "line of credit" attached to my checking account but even that HAS A LIMIT and when I reach it, the bank "cuts me off". Then I have to pay back what I have used out of the account, until such a time as I can borrow from it, again. It is altogether, too bad that you all haven't ever had to keep your hands out of the cookie jar, even when all you had to put back into it was a big handful of I.O.U.'s. I, for one, am praying for the day when Jesus slaps our hands, including all of yours, for your indiscretions! Don't stop trying to reign in that "den of thieves" which you are forced to associate with. I wouldn't want to have to do that and I don't! God bless you! Dennis Pine

    12. Michelle L. Thompson says:

      Thank you Michele for your courage and your unshakable support of the U.S. Military!

    13. david miller ca. says:

      We must ALL take a hit DOD,SS, do it now and hurt or do it later and hurt MORE. We MUST get out of debt,and NEVER again find ourself here.

    14. Wayne Clarkson Virde says:

      I agree with much of what you say. We do need a strong Military. I know this may sound a little odd, but what if all the military were cut back to the bone. Were would those people be in an already tuff job market. Having a lot of my family in the Military not only potects the country but gives them a very secure living.

      Thanks for listening

    15. Linda Maddox says:

      Thank you for the information. I didn't know this. I will stand up for our Defense spending at every opportunity.

      Thank you for always informing us on what is going on and what we need to be concerned with. Like Obamacare!

      Please run for President, we need someone very smart, that loves our country and will stand up for us the American people.

      How about you and Sarah Palin, what a pair. Good luck, my husband who is very conservative and loves Rush, said he would vote for you! And that is saying something. He doesn't like most who run!

      And thank you to the Heritage Foundation for informing us of what is really going on in this country!

    16. @FWTPtoo says:

      Instead of debating whether we should defend defense, Rep Bachman should challenge the Marxist-in-chief to a debate. In fact every Republican candidate should challenge him and punk him out. Dare him to debate them. Say he is scared frail empty suit of a man. Threaten to "tear him up." Each republican candidate should join in and challenge him to a debate.

      We want to see how our potential republican candidates can stack up against obama. Lets see who can slay this monster in our White House. Every candidate should look directly in the camera and call his punk ass out. Sarah Palin can even challenge him to both a one-on-one pick-up basketball game, and to a debate on the issues. Nothing real formal, just long enough for us to see and hear them, so we can get an idea of how each will look and feel going toe to toe with the man child. They just have to be sure and make fun of him because he will just ignore the challenge, but the voting public will know this guy is a fake and a scared punk who can't face a real conservative.

    17. Bill W. Williams says:

      Rep. Bachmann is absolutely correct in her views on having a strong military. If we are to remain a free nation we must be able to defend our country against any threat to our way of life.That is JOB 1!! Getting our economy, our people back to work & our deficit back in line is JOB 2… All of these things can be accomplished by passing HR 25 & Senate Bill 13 which are currently in committee for consideration. These bills more commonly known as The Fair Tax legislation do away with all taxes on production (income tax) an tax consumption. Go to fairtax.org for a full explanation of all the benefits of doing away with our present tax system. Also please watch the videos, they will answer any questions you might have.

    18. HawkWatcher, Mi. says:

      George, if the DoD uses the dollars internally saved as part of it's budget, that same amount would be deducted from their funding. How is that a budget increase? Why are you so hellbent on cutting the DoD, one of the few federal functions enumerated in the Constitution? Bachmann's article demonstrates correct thinking, T.E.A. party thinking, and is exactly why she is in Washington.

    19. Ken Hardy, Woonsocke says:

      As a retired soldier I can attest to the need for a predictable and consistent Defense budget, the indiscriminate cuts of the mid to late 1990's caused chaos in the military, and yielded no lasting benefits. At the very least, plan the role of the military and it's myriad of contingencies and then plan a budget to support it, rather than making cuts that the military has to adapt to on the run.

    20. Brian, PA says:

      One way to cut the DoD budget is to look at what we are doing and determine if it still needs to be done. Sixty-five years after WWII ended, do we still need troops in Germany?

      (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_deployments)

      Why must US taxpayers pay for the defense of other countries while they ramp up their social, educational, and technology spending? If South Korea wants protection from the North, shouldn't they be paying for their own protection, either by forming their own military capable of adequate defense, or paying us for that defense?

      Finally, why is the DoD seemingly used as a jobs program? Virtually every white paper written in defense of military spending has some mention of jobs. Shouldn't we fund what the military needs (not what Congress thinks the military needs) without regard to the jobs it creates? A perfect example if the second engine for the F-22, an engine the Pentagon didn't want, but one that was funded by Congress because of the jobs it creates.

      We need to view the DoD as what it is supposed to be…a part of the government responsible for the defense of the USA. It may be employed to defend our allies for which we should be reimbursed. It will also employ people, but that should be only with the goal of defense, not a jobs program.

    21. George Colgrove VA says:

      OK, I give up. I do want a strong MILITARY, but I do not think we need to waste considerable amounts of money in innaporpreate DoD excessive spending. Trying to cut back on entitlemenet will be an uphill battle – but it all has to happen if this country is to survive. So, let the budget crisis of 2012 or 2013 decide it for us. A strong military will have no effect if we cannot pay for it – and right now we cannot afford 56% of it! I am hell bent on cutting goverment – all of it. We have and will only have $2.1 trillion +/- to spend annually. Taxing us more will finish us off. Taxing us less I am afraid will have little effect. We are already in trouble, and we have no economy to get us out of it – especially if we continue to do more harm. To spend what we are on defense, when we practically spend more than the rest of the world combined is lunacy. When entitlements cost more than the total tax revenue – this is lunacy. When the federal workforce is working on 44% capital – this is lunacy! When will reason step in?

      So we will leave it up to the democrats to gut the military (believe me regarding the impending financial crisis – they will not let it go to waste!) when we conservatives could have smartly and quickly cut the non-military parts of the DoD. And due to our inaction on defense cuts, our agruments of cutting entitlements will fall on deaf ears – we are not make any consessions. This is the politics I am often reminded of – a dangerous game. We are in a dual of extremes and no one is backing down, So God-speed to disaster we go – all guns firing – all the while our heads squarely planted in the sand!

      When I look at this problem I see that my four boys and their unborn children cannot afford this mess that the federal workforce has left for them! Why is my childrens right to a better life than I had so wrong to fight for?

    22. Dean, Sauk Rapids, M says:

      The 6th District has a lot to be proud of in Michele!

    23. Pingback: President Obama's Energy Policies Bankrupt Seahawk Drilling | The Foundry

    24. Spiritof76, NH says:

      I constantly hear about how we can not and must not touch military budget. With $1.5T deficits and with $14+T debt, we do not have an option. We must get all our troops from Japan, Germany, S. Korea and from every other place. We must find a way to wind down our involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and ME in general. This is not isolationism but purley based on national interest. We can cut our defense budget by at least 25%. Where in Constitution does it allow the president to enagage in war acts without Congressional declaration of war? Can we look at our problem in the light of what we are forcing our kids and grand kids to pay for. We are enslaving them.

    25. George Colgrove VA says:

      Brian, PA,

      I fully support your post. The DoD employs about 700,000 overpaid federal workers at rates higher than the resto fo the federal government. The average federal worker collects $123,000 in pay and benefits (from 44% capital and 56% debt) with DoD workers a bit higher. Conservatively if you say that amount is likely $135,000 for the DoD – the annual drain of DEFENSE dollars is almost a $100 billion! Most DoD progam offices are top heavy with GS15's reporting to GS15; GS14's reporting to GS14 and so on. There are far too many people working in the DoD and most people feel a reduction in staff may not even be noticable. The DoD does everything (including payroll) that the rest of the federal government does.

      Contractor payouts this year looks like it will be $400 billion. You take these payouts and the payout to the federal workforce – it leaves only $200 billion for defense! This comes down to less than $100,000 to cloth, house and compensate each of our soldiers! It is no wonder they are in dire straits! It is clear our soldiers are not the priority of the POLITCAL federal department (DoD).

      Without cutting one soldier or one needed defense system, we can take all duplicative programs and all other NON-MILITARY programs out of the DoD as the cut to the DoD budget – things like the printing office, issueing parking permits, payroll, human resources for federal workers, media, open government initiatives, the list can go on and on. Can we move all the reconstruction, education programs and other releif programs out of the DoD and into places where maybe the global private sector can provide funding for. Can we create an international non-military war releif program that takes the role of rebuilding out of the DoD where the sodiers would rather be home.

      It is not a question of will the DoD budget get hammered, it will – just like DoEd, DoEn, DOT, DHHS (and that will be the biggest slash of them all!), DHS and so on. The question is what do we cut. Do we eliminate the Jobs Program aspects of the DoD and return back to strictly defense, or do we cut the MILITARY in favor of the jobs programs.

      My vote is to protect the MILTARY and focus all remaining funding in that direction.

    26. Santina Newberry, Wa says:

      Michele Bachmann has good ideas and the stamina to be successful in her quest to "Make Barack Obama, a one term president" !

    27. John B. Thompson Boa says:

      I do not consider myself a Tea Party member but I am intrigued by Mechele Bachmann and can see her one day as our president

    28. GetReal says:

      I agree wholeheartedly with the first two comments assessing Bachmann's post. What happened to the Congresswoman; I thought she had the integrity and clarity of purpose of Ron Paul!?

      Eisenhower clearly warned the American people about the nefarious intentions of the Military Industrial Complex. Have they begun to manage Bachmann, too? I had been a supporter of Bachmann's campaign until reading this post. I had hoped she might be incorruptible, but this post screams compromised.

      While I believe we must have a military to protect the borders of the U.S. and the people from its enemies, per the Constitution, I don't think our military serves the American people's interests as it performs as the tool of aggression for NATO and the interests of the world's central bankers, who clearly are intent on taking what they want when they want it anywhere in the world. Among other factors–like the un-Constitutionality of it!–the US cannot afford it.

      The most expedient and fiscally efficient protection for the country is through our intelligence and special forces. However, not as they function today as a lever for the power mongers who corrupt and command our intelligence forces to suit their own purposes. If we move to cut the Federal government down to the small size the Constitution requires and eliminate the central bankers from our shores (the Federal Reserve, an egregious corruption of our Constitutionally recognized rights), intelligence forces can proceed to operate in the actual interests of the American people and should be very efficient as we do exactly what Bachmann advises here not to do– that is, take a scalpel to the Pentagon and military spending. I'm looking for the man with the scalpel.

    29. G. E. B. says:

      Why go broke trying to help Afghanistan, when two other powers went broke trying to do the same as we are.

      I say bring our military home and make better use of them. Employ them to protecting our borders.

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