Liberals, libertarians, and the lamestream media continue to talk about how America supposedly needs to reduce its defense spending and about how the DOD supposedly enjoys “protected status” (which it doesn’t). These arguments suggest that defense spending hasn’t been reduced yet. But that is false.
Over the last 10 years, and especially in 2009 and 2010, the Congress and two successive SECDEFs have closed dozens and dozens of crucial weapon programs. Under President Obama, Secretary Gates alone has closed over 50.
In December 2010, the Congress cut defense spending to just $525 bn, down from $534 bn ($550 bn in 2011 dollars) in FY2010. The Congress disregarded America’s defense needs and Gates’ FY2011 defense budget request and decided to impose these cuts on the DOD anyway.
And most recently, under the surrender deal, the Congress has agreed to cut defense spending even further, to $513 bn, the lowest level since FY2008, i.e. by another $12 bn. Secretary Gates has said explicitly that the DOD needs at least $540 bn in FY2011. The new, long-term CR would underfund defense by $27 bn and cut defense spending from the FY2010 level by $37 bn. That is utterly unacceptable, treasonous, and plain wrong.
Yet, Speaker Boehner continues to lie that the $513 defense budget would be $5 bn larger than the FY2010 budget. It wouldn’t be. That is a blatant lie.
But all of these defense cuts, which have already SIGNIFICANTLY weakened the US military, are not enough for Obama. Why? Because he hates America and wants it to be defenseless; and because he’s a sworn pacifist who believes weapons and militaries are unneeded.
So during his speech about the budget deficit on Wednesday, Obama announced his intention to pursue further deep defense cuts, to the tune of $400 bn over the next 10-12 years. Said Obama:
“The second step in our approach is to find additional savings in our defense budget. Now, as Commander-in-Chief, I have no greater responsibility than protecting our national security, and I will never accept cuts that compromise our ability to defend our homeland or America’s interests around the world. But as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen, has said, the greatest long-term threat to America’s national security is America’s debt. So just as we must find more savings in domestic programs, we must do the same in defense. And we can do that while still keeping ourselves safe.
Over the last two years, Secretary Bob Gates has courageously taken on wasteful spending, saving $400 billion in current and future spending. I believe we can do that again. We need to not only eliminate waste and improve efficiency and effectiveness, but we’re going to have to conduct a fundamental review of America’s missions, capabilities, and our role in a changing world. I intend to work with Secretary Gates and the Joint Chiefs on this review, and I will make specific decisions about spending after it’s complete.”
The American people have heard these assurances many times before – “no, we will never cut the crucial defense programs, we will never endanger America, we’re just close unneeded programs and eliminate wasteful expenses”. But each time defense was cut, the vast majority of defense spending which was really eliminated was that dedicated to needed defense programs (e.g. necessary weapon programs and the force structure).
In other words, despite the pious assurances of politicians, each time defense spending was cut, it was mostly the CRUCIAL, NECESSARY defense programs which were cut and abolished, and as a result, each time the military became weaker and America became less safe.
Now Obama, who has already significantly weakened the military with the closure or cutting of over 50 crucial weapon programs, a de-facto cancellation of serious modernization of the military, and the New START, wants to double down on these defense cuts by cutting defense spending further, by $400 bn over the next 10-12 years. That would amount to $33.33 bn per year over 12 years.
You can’t cut the defense budget by that much by just eliminating wasteful, fraudulent, and duplicative expenses. There aren’t that many of them, in terms of their total dollar cost per year, in the annual defense budget. Obama himself has acknowledged that. He admitted, during his speech, that he will order the DOD, after a “review” (which will certainly be rigged to suit his pacifist beliefs and his arbitrary budget cut goal), to end some of its missions and close some of its programs (probably including weapon programs). He has also said that any savings he makes at the DOD (and he has ordered the DOD to make savings of $400 bn over the next 12 FYs) will be devoted to “deficit reduction” (i.e. de facto to his beloved socialist domestic programs, because it is these programs which caused huge annual budget deficits in the first place), not reinvested in the DOD. So the DOD has been ordered to make huge savings, but if Obama gets is way, it won’t be allowed to reap any of these savings – they will be taken out of the DOD’s accounts and devoted to “deficit reduction”, thus undermining calls for cuts of domestic programs.
Obama’s call for defense cuts, and any defense cuts he or the DOD proposes, must be rejected. Why?
For the same reasons why any defense cuts must be rejected at any time, but also for several distinct reasons specific to our times:
1) As stated above, defense spending has already been significantly reduced – to $513 bn this FY2011, which is the lowest level of defense spending, in absolute numbers, since FY2008. It amounts to a mere 3.50% of GDP, the lowest level of defense spending since FY1948, excluding the late Clinton years. America cannot afford to cut defense spending any further.
2) Because the military is currently facing a grave modernization crisis, as confirmed by the QDR Independent Review Panel co-chaired by former NS Advisor Stephen Hadley and former Clinton Administration SECDEF William Perry. These two former senior officials have warned that the military is facing a train wreck unless spending on modernization is significantly increased and old weapons are replaced with new equipment. Cutting defense spending would be a lousy policy anytime, but particularly so in the light of these warnings. And no, America cannot afford to delay military modernization (i.e. massive purchases of new military equipment) any further. Doing so will only increase the costs of military modernization later.
3) Because America’s enemies are greatly increasing their military spending and independent think-tanks are warning Western countries not to cut their defense budgets. The London-based IISS has devoted an entire study to this subject and has publicly warned American policymakers not to commit this folly. The details are available here.
4) Because Obama wants to cut defense spending to protect his beloved socialist domestic programs for serious cuts. As he has already admitted during his speech, he intends to shield his favorite liberal boondoggles (the Department of Indoctrination, “clean energy technology”, biofuels, “the infrastructure”, and “medical research programs”, i.e. embryonic stem cell research programs) from any cuts. He also intends to minimize any cuts to all other domestic programs – discretionary and nondiscretionary alike. He intends to deeply cut defense spending exactly in order to protect domestic programs from cuts.
5) Because Obama wants to gut America’s defense to appease his extremely liberal supporters. Obama is not serious about deficit reduction. He couldn’t care less about whether the budget deficit will be cut or not. His own budget plans call for over-$700-bn annual budget deficits for perpetuity. These latest defense cuts are intended solely to appease his extremely liberal supporters (who hate the military and oppose a strong defense) and, at the same time, to make him appear serious about the budget deficit to indies and moderates. Republicans and independents ABSOLUTELY MUST reject these defense cuts and call them what there are – mere policies of pandering to his liberal voters.