Yesterday, I received an email (a mass email) from FreedomWorks.org. Here’s a part of what they wrote:
“We are pleased to see Republicans in Congress taking this challenge seriously. We applaud Rep. Paul Ryan for being the first adult at the negotiating table with his innovative proposal that makes serious cuts and reforms to the Federal budget.
Ryan’s budget is a solid foundation for improving America’s future, and worthy of support. But we at FreedomWorks also believe more can and should be done.
Alternative proposals may take these additional steps. The Republican Study Committee cuts spending sooner and deeper, and proposals expected from Senators Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Pat Toomey will offer addition al ideas on harmful agencies to eliminate and programs to reform.
While all of these options are indisputably better than President Obama’s reckless proposals, we urge Congress to chart a bold course and adopt a budget which will:
- Balance within ten years
- Eliminate unnecessary and unconstitutional departments
- Reduce Federal government spending to AT MOST 18% of GDP
- Include Secretary Gate’s proposed $145 billion in Defense cuts
- Cut non-defense government spending much faster and deeper
Our poll shows broad-based, majority support for the provisions above. Specifically:
- 78% of likely swing-state voters say there’s NO EXCUSE to not balance the budget within 10 years
- 64% of likely swing-state voters agree we should eliminate unnecessary departments like HUD
- 78% of likely swing-state voters demand the cutting of $145 billion in Defense Department waste, fraud, and abuse”
What’s the problem with this? That Freedomworks.org leaders, including Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe (both of whom signed the email), know nothing about defense spending and are maligning the DOD.
Let’s review their claims. First of all, Secretary Gates (his name is Gates, not Gate – can’t Freedomworks.org loons learn even that?) has not proposed “defense cuts”, but rather defense reforms – not cuts, but reforms. He wants $100 bn of the savings to be reinvested in the DOD, and the $78 bn resulting from the reduction of the projected DOD budget topline over the next 5 FYs to be devoted to deficit reduction. That’s the big difference between the policy that he advocates and the course advocated by loony libertarian groups like FW and ATR, which want to mindlessly cut the defense budget deeply and redirect this money to “deficit reduction” (thus easing the pressure on domestic programs and giving liberals an excuse not to cut them).
Secondly, Secretary Gates has proposed savings larger than what FW claimed – $178 bn, not $145 bn, so these folks clearly don’t know what they’re talking about. However, these savings ($178 bn) would be achieved over 5 FYs, not over 1 FY. The savings would thus amount to to $35.6 bn per year.
Thirdly, although FW claims that there is “$145 bn in terms of waste, fraud and abuse in the defense budget”, this claim is clearly false. There isn’t. Not in one annual defense budget, and not in 5 consecutive annual defense budgets. This claim is simply not true. No one disputes there are some wasteful expenses in the DOD’s budget, as well as some abusive ones and some duplicative ones, and that many companies defraud the DOD of money (i.e. steal money from the DOD – which is a federal offense). But the scale of this has been exaggerated. This does not run to the tune of $145 bn per year. FW is simply lying to malign the DOD, because, like other libertarian groups, it opposes a strong defense; it believes that a standing army is a threat to civil liberties. That’s why it’s lying about the DOD.
So what about the SECDEF’s proposals? They amount to $178 bn worth of savings over the next FYs, don’t they? Yes, they do. But they tackle more than wasteful, fraudulent, and abusive expenses. Secretary Gates knew before he announced these savings that he would have to tackle more than that to truly reform the DOD (or any other federal agency). Part of his savings is achieved from fuel savings by the Air Mobility Command, and a part from trimming the ranks of the Army and the Marine Corps: he proposes to lay off 27,000 soldiers and 15,000-20,000 Marines.
So it’s not like all of his savings are achieved by tackling “wasteful” expenses. Nor could they be.