Zbigniew Mazurak's Blog

A blog dedicated to defense issues

Archive for April 1st, 2012

Refuting the COGC’s lies about defense spending

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on April 1, 2012


As everyone should know by now, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan has devised a great budget plan (H.Con.Res. 112) which, if passed, would balance the federal budget, reform entitlements, reform the tax code, spur economic growth, and eventually pay off the entire public debt by the 2050s, while cancelling defense spending sequestration and funding defense fully, in line with the Nation’s defense needs.

By publishing his budget plan, Congressman Paul Ryan has not only published a great plan to balance the budget and reduce federal debt, he has also put everyone on the record.

No longer will fiscal-only-conservatives (who are not really conservatives at all) have finally dropped their “conservative” masks and have shown their true faces. They’ve finally shown their true colors. They’ve shown they are not conservatives at all, not even fiscal conservatives, but merely libertarians who are out their to specifically gut defense.

An example of that is this webpage published by the libertarian Cost of Government Center (COGC).

This page is a litany of blatant lies. “This cut, called a sequester, was set at certain amounts for defense and non-defense spending.”

What a pity that the COGC hasn’t bothered to tell people what these amounts would be: $600 bn in defense and $600 bn in the Medicare program.

“Republicans, who have traditionally been loath to challenge the spending status quo as it related to military spending, have since been suggesting ways to avert the sequester.”

Utter garbage. Republicans have never been loath to cut defense spending or to challenge what this website wrongly calls “the spending status quo as it relates to military spending”. Republicans were the ones who deeply cut defense spending in the 1950s, 1970s (pre-Carter), late 1990s, the 1990s (the GOP-controlled, Gingrich-led Congress shamefully collaborated with Clinton on cutting defense), and more recently, under Obama (Republicans voted for Obama’s defense cuts of FY2010, FY2011, and FY2012, as well as the Budget Control Act and the New START treaty). Any claim that Republicans have been loath to cut defense is a blatant lie.

“It is disappointing that Republicans are so reluctant to scrutinize military spending.”

That is also a blatant lie. Republicans have never been reluctant to scrutinize military spending; they have often cut it; and they scrutinize it, ask hard questions, and amend the defense budget in many ways every year. But SCRUTINIZING is one thing. DEEPLY CUTTING defense spending is quite another. Genuine SCRUTINY does not pre-suppose that defense spending will be cut – it merely means it will be carefully reviewed, line by line, and inefficiencies eliminated.

“The Department of Defense is slated to spending $6.5 trillion over the next ten years”

That is also a blatant lie for which there is no evidence to back it up, because it’s a lie. The DOD will NOT spend $6.5 trillion over the next ten years even under the most optimistic projections. Even without sequestration, its core budget will be cut to $525 bn and the OCO budget to $88.5 bn in FY2013, and even deeper afterwards. By FY2016, OCO spending will be zero, and core defense spending will still be far below $600 bn. Of course, with the sequester, these numbers will be far lower (the core defense budget will be cut to $491 bn in FY2013 and will grow very slowly afterwards, not reaching $580 bn until FY2019). Congressional Budget Office data shows that if sequestration proceeds, core defense spending over the next decade will amount to only $5.374 trillion, almost $1.2 trillion less than what the COGC claims (see the graph below). So no, with or without sequestration, the DOD’s spending will not total $6.5 trillion over the next decade, not even under the most optimistic projections.

“a true conservative should not be able to claim with a straight face that DOD can’t find efficiencies to satisfy the $440 billion sequester over the same amount of time.”

But that’s a straw man argument, because the sequester will cut far more than that from the defense budget. If it proceeds (God forbid), it will cut $600 bn from the core defense budget over a decade, ON TOP OF the first tier of defense cuts ordered by the debt ceiling deal ($487 bn over a decade), which means that the core defense budget would be cut by a total of $1.087 TRILLION ($1087 billion) over 10 years, i.e. $108.7 bn PER YEAR on average.

IN ADDITION TO THAT, the OCO budget would be shrinking annually and eventually zero out in FY2016 as the last American troops leave Afghanistan. In total, military spending would be cut, under such a scenario, by 34% – more deeply than it was after the Cold War and far more deeply than after the Vietnam War.

Such deep defense cuts would totally gut the US military, as confirmed by all Joint Chiefs and the DOD’s civilian leaders, as well as many retired officers and independent defense analysts.

There isn’ that much waste in the defense budget. Not even close. There is some waste, but not even nearly that much. I know, because I’m a veteran defense analyst and the author of the larger DOD reform proposals package ever proposed, the Defense Reform Proposals Package.

The real non-conservatives here are those who demand that sequestration of the defense budget proceed. If you support defense cuts – especially cuts as deep as those that the sequester would make – you are not a conservative, period. You cannot support such deep defense cuts and claim to be a conservative. Supporting a strong defense, and robust funding for it, is an integral, irremovable part of conservative philosophy.

It is clear that this COGC group wants defense SPECIFICALLY to be completely gutted. No other amount of cuts elsewhere, not even a larger amount of cuts, is enough to satisfy them. By their own admission:

“fortunately, the suspension is at least replaced with spending cuts on the mandatory side. The budget directs committees responsible for mandatory programs (so those involved in everything from Medicare to Agriculture subsidies) to come up with a set number of savings. These cuts will not make up the entire amount of cuts that would have happened with a sequester in the first year, but will offer three times that amount by the end of the ten year window.”

By their own admission, over the entire decade window, Paul Ryan’s substitute mandatory spending cuts would reduce federal spending by THREE TIMES AS MUCH as the sequester would cut out of defense, and Ryan wants to cut everything from Medicare to market-distorting Agriculture subsidies. Yet, even that is not enough for them. They still want defense to be gutted. They still want it to be cut down so deeply so that the military will be unable to defend the US. They evidently hate the military and embrace a weak-defense-posture. They are out specifically to gut defense, and they don’t care about the consequences.

They and their policies must be rejected firmly. Paul Ryan’s plan is the right plan for the GOP. It would spare defense from sequestration, while substituting for it mandatory spending cuts that would save taxpayers THREE TIMES as much money, by their own admission.

The Ryan Plan is a win-win proposition for everyone… well, everyone except those who want to specifically gut defense.

Posted in Economic affairs, Ideologies, Military issues, World affairs | Leave a Comment »

 
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