Zbigniew Mazurak's Blog

A blog dedicated to defense issues

Protect the nuclear deterrent, reduce entitlement costs

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on January 8, 2013


As Washington ponders what to do about America’s large annual budget deficit ($1.2 trillion per year), the Left has taken aim at America’s nuclear deterrent – the most important asset the US military has, one which protects America and its 30+ allies against the most catastrophic threats – and demands cut in it while refusing to agree to any cuts in entitlements and discretionary social programs. Last month, 44 stridently liberal House Democrats, led by Ed Markey and Barney Frank, demanded exactly such policy in a letter to Congressional leadership.

But they’re dead wrong, and the policy they advocate is destructive, subversive, treasonous, and unconstitutional.

Here’s why. Here are seven good reasons why the nuclear deterrent should NOT be cut and why entitlement costs should be reformed (i.e. significantly reduced):

1) Protecting America is not only an enumerated power but the highest Constitutional DUTY of the federal government, as articulated in the Preamble, in Art. I Sec. 8, and in Art. IV Sec. 4. The majority of enumerated powers delegated to the Congress and listed in Art. I Sec. 8 relate to  military affairs. The military is the ONLY significant expenditure authorized by the Constitution.

By contrast, entitlement programs (and discretionary social programs) are unconstitutional. They are outside the scope of the powers vested in the federal government by the Constitution.

No person who takes his/her oath to the Constitution seriously could advocate deep cuts in funding for America’s defense, especially not for the kind of defense against the most catastrophic threats, while simoultaneously refusing to agree to any cuts in unconstitutional entitlement programs.

2) The nuclear deterrent costs very little: $32 bn per year according to the Stimson Center. This includes all nuclear warheads, all of their delivery systems, and all of their supporting facilities. Over the next decade or so, the US will need to modernize its nuclear deterrent; the Stimson Center estimates that with these modernization costs accounted for, the total cost will rise to only $39.2 bn per year, or $392 bn over the next decade.

How much is $39.2 bn? Just 6.1% of the total military budget ($633 bn authorized for FY2013), and just 1% out of a $3.699 trillion annual federal budget. Just one percent. Just one cent on the dollar.

Individual nuclear weapon systems cost even less. The ICBM  leg of the nuclear triad costs only $1.1 bn per year to maintain; the bomber leg, $2.5 bn.

By contrast, the Big Three entitlement programs alone constitute 62-63% of the ENTIRE federal budgets, and their costs grow on autopilot every year. Social Security alone costs well over $700 bn every year. See the Heritage Foundation graphs below.

ALC_042_3col_c

70percentoffederalspendingissocialspending

3) Given entitlements’ huge costs, and the nuclear deterrent’s tiny cost, it is clear that it is ENTITLEMENTS, not nuclear weapons, that should be cut, or at least looked to for savings. By contrast, the US could give up its entire nuclear deterrent unilaterally tomorrow, and this would cut the federal budget by a paltry 1% – not even a dent in the annual budget deficit ($1.2 trillion) or total annual federal spending. Cutting or even eliminating the nuclear deterrent would do NOTHING do solve the deficit problem. Reforming entitlements and thus reducing their costs (e.g. by means-testing SS and Medicare, increasing the eligibility age, and giving people the freedom to leave the SS system and open private retirement accounts instead) would go a long way to reduce budget deficits and public debt.

4) If entitlements are not reformed soon, they will, within a few decades, swallow the entire federal budget, leaving the US with no money for defense or anything else. Furthermore, if they are not reformed soon, they will bury America under a mountain of debt, as they collectively have liabilities of $100 trillion. Again, even eliminating the nuclear deterrent unilaterally would do NOTHING to stop this tsunami of entitlement spending and entitlement-driven debt.

defense-spending-entitlement-spending-problem-600

5) Making further deep cuts in the nuclear deterrent, while Russia retains its huge arsenal and China has a large one (far larger than what disarmament advocates and government bureaucrats claim), would invite a Russian (if not Chinese) nuclear first strike on the US, as the US nuclear arsenal would, after further deep cuts, be far too small to be survivable or to credibly threaten most of Russia’s and China’s military assets.

6) Entitlements and other social programs make people permanently dependent on the government (in this case, the federal government) and thus teach dependence instead of self-reliance, which used to be a defining American trait. Today, instead of people providing for their and their families’ needs, virtually everyone wants to rely on a government program (i.e. on tax money confiscated from someone else) instead.

7) Entitlements and other social programs, by encouraging dependence on the federal government and by resulting in a mass confiscation of wealth from producers and transfer of that wealth to those who didn’t earn it, are immoral. In the Bible, God upholds the sanctity of private property: He says that we are prohibited not only to steal, but even to covet it.

In short, the Left’s claims are blatant lies, and their policy proposals are downright destructive. Were their cretinous policies to be implemented (God forbid), the US would be gutting its own nuclear deterrent (thus opening itself  and over 30 allies to a Russian or Chinese nuclear blackmail or even attack) while completely failing to make any meaningful reduction in federal spending, budget deficits, or debt. Such policies are totally unnacceptable and must be rejected completely. No ifs, no buts.

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