For years, the opponents of defense spending and a strong defense (the same people), including the utterly discredited signatories of the infamous Nov. 30, 2010 letter to Boehner and McConnell, have been falsely claiming that defense spending has enjoyed “protected status” which, supposedly, has allowed it to escape budget cuts. Some claim it enjoyed such status during the Bush era, some that it has enjoyed it longer.
Both groups are wrong, however. Defense spending has NEVER enjoyed protected status, not even during the Bush era. On November 4th, 2005, Deputy SECDEF Gordon England (obligated by a Congressional vote of May 17th, 2005) ordered the military to cut its core budget by $32.1 bn in CY2005 dollars over FYs2007-2011. Because budgets to pay for fuel, HC, pay, and repairs to the equipment damaged in Iraq and Afghanistan were shielded, however, the cuts came at the expense of crucial modernization programs such as the F-35 and Zumwalt class programs, which the media, including the WaPo, slandered as “expensive weapon programs that defense companies derive most of their profits from”.
Here’s the WaPo article from Nov. 4th:
“Military Ordered To Trim Budgets
5-Year Plans Must Be Cut By $32.1 Billion
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, November 4, 2005
The military services have been ordered to cut $32.1 billion from their projected spending plans for the next five years as part of government-wide belt-tightening forced by rising war costs, a growing deficit and hurricane-relief spending.
The order came in a Oct. 19 memo from Gordon R. England, the acting deputy secretary of defense, to the leadership of the Army, Navy and Air Force, according to a senior defense official. The newsletter Inside the Pentagon reported on the memo yesterday.
No decisions have been made and more adjustments are expected this month from the White House as the deadline nears for the completion of the fiscal year 2007 federal budget, the official said. The cuts would affect budgets through fiscal 2011.
The spending cuts had been expected and are in addition to reductions the Pentagon proposed last year. The bill to fund the Defense Department for the fiscal year that started Oct. 1 still has not passed Congress.
The Pentagon’s budget to support troops, which includes increasing fuel and health care costs, is expected to be immune from cuts, industry analysts said. The military will also continue to need millions of dollars to repair and replace equipment being used in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, they said.
Thus, the cuts are expected to come at the expense of expensive weapons programs such as Lockheed Martin Corp.’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the DD(X) destroyer being developed by Northrop Grumman Corp. The military’s procurement and research and development programs, from which defense companies most of their profits, are considered vulnerable, especially those that are behind schedule or over budget.
“The budget pressures are making it very difficult to afford new military hardware,” said Loren B. Thompson, a defense industry analyst with the Lexington Institute.”
And these cuts were made indeed, and the overall size of the core defense budget was reduced by that $32.1 bn. This was at the same time that the Congress was passing pork-laden legislation like the infamous 2005 highway bill (the SAFETEA: LU).
These cuts significantly weakened the US military.
Defense spending has NEVER enjoyed protected status. Not during the 1920s. Not during the 1930s. Not during the late 1940s. Not during the 1950s. Not during the 1960s. Not during the 1970s. Not during the 1980s. Not during the 1990s. Not during the 2000s. Not this calendar year. Not ever.