Will’s lies about defense spending

Columnist George Will has betrayed conservative principles and has joined the ranks of the opponents of a strong defense. Using his WaPo column, he’s campaigning against a strong defense by lying.


He claims that:

“The United States spends almost as much on military capabilities as the rest of the world spends, and at least six times more than the second-biggest spending nation (China).”

These claims are blatant lies. Firstly, as of CY2009 (FY2010), America’s total military spending was $663 bn (in then-year dollars), and according to the SIPRI, this constituted barely 43% of global military spending. So the US doesn’t spend “almost as much on military capabilities as the rest of the world spends”. Of that $663 bn, only $534 bn was spent on defense, and $129 bn was spent on the GWOT. As for China, the claim that its military budget is “at least six times smaller” is also a blatant lie – in FY2010, it was $120 bn, i.e. just 5 times less than the US military budget.

The WaPo columnist also claimed in the first paragraph of his article: “But the 35 Republicans on his [McKeon’s] 62-member committee include 13 first-term legislators, some of whom embody the Tea Party’s zeal for cutting government spending.”

But as the actual voting record of the freshmen GOP Congressmen, compiled by the HF, indicates, they vote for defense spending cuts much less frequently, and in smaller numbers, than Congressmen who served before 2011. Says the HF:

“An analysis of the voting patterns on those 13 votes found that the Freshmen were not the ones leading the charge to cut defense within the GOP.  There were just 14 Republicans willing to cut defense more than 50% of the time and only one was a Freshmen. Of the 29 Republicans who voted to protect defense less than 65% of the time, only six were Freshmen.

On the other end of the spectrum, there were 78 Republicans who opposed amendments to cut defense 100% of the time and another 47 who did so at least 92% of the time.  In total 41 Freshmen were a part of these two groups, nearly half of their entire class. Clearly, it is too soon to say the Freshmen are leading the charge to cut defense.”

Then, the dishonest WaPo columnist falsely claimed:

“Furthermore, since fiscal 2001, what is called the military’s “baseline budget” has increased 80 percent, to $534 billion. That number is, however, much less than what is actually being spent, and not just because it doesn’t include much of the spending on the two wars.”

This is a false claim. Firstly, from FY2001 to FY2010 the baseline budget did increase to $534 bn, but it was NOT an 80% increase since FY2001. Not even close. The FY2001 defense budget, passed and signed into law in CY2000, was $291.1 bn in 2000 dollars, i.e. $365 bn in FY2010 dollars. 534-365=169. 169/365=0.31647.

So, since FY2001, the baseline defense budget has increased only by 31.647%, i.e. by less than one third. His claim is therefore utterly false.

This is not the DOD’s entire budget, as the DOD also has an annual GWOT supplemental. But the total military budget was just $663 bn, and it still hasn’t doubled since FY2001; $663 bn was 81% larger than the FY2001 military budget. And it represented a paltry 4.5% of GDP, a microscopic percentage.

$534 bn was the DOD’s FY2010 defense budget. FY2010 ended a long time ago. For the current FY (FY2011), the DOD has received a $150 bn GWOT supplemental and a paltry $525 core defense budget under the ConRes. This budget is smaller by $9 bn in nominal terms ($17 bn in real terms) than the FY2010 defense budget, and $24 bn smaller than what the President requested for defense for FY2011. Absurdly, the House has recently (a week ago) passed another FY2011ConRes (HR1) which would cut the DOD’s core defense budget even further, to $516 bn, $33 bn below the President’s FY2011 budget request, and totally inadequate to protect the country.

So the DOD’s current core budget is $525 bn, not $534 bn.

The WaPo columnist then wrote that: “After listening to recent Defense Department testimony, Randy Forbes, a six-term Virginia Republican on McKeon’s committee, was exasperated. He said that for four years the department, whose $708 billion budget – his number – is the size of the world’s 22nd-largest economy (the Netherlands), has not complied with the law requiring auditable financial statements.”

But that is a blatant lie, uttered by a dishonest liar, Randy Forbes. The DOD has NEVER had a $708 bn budget. Not this fiscal year. Not in FY2010. Not ever. The DOD did request $708 bn for FY2011, but it never received such a budget. Its total FY2010 budget was, as I wrote earlier, $663 bn. Its FY2011 budget is $675 bn ($525 bn + 150 bn). So Forbes’s claim is a blatant lie.

“He said that the department is not “qualified” to talk about efficiencies if it “does not know where our defense dollars are going” and that it cannot comply with the law if it “does not even have mechanisms in place to perform the audits.””

ROTFL! Forbes lecturing the DOD whether it is qualified to talk about efficiencies? Forbes is a liberal Republican who has repeatedly voted for inefficient programs and agencies, and who, with his Congressional colleagues, wastes more of taxpayers’ money every month than the DOD has wasted throughout its entire history.

 “To govern is to choose, always on the basis of imperfect information. If, however, the strong language of Forbes and Coburn is apposite, Congress cannot make adequately informed choices about the uniquely important matters that come to McKeon’s committee. This fact will fuel the fires of controversy that will rage within the ranks of Republicans as they come to terms with the fact that current defense spending cannot be defended until it is understood.”

Yet it is George Will who doesn’t understand defense spending.



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