America’s worst president ever, Barack Obama, has once again proven he knows nothing about defense issues, including the defense budget. During his recent Twitter interview with the voters and with Democratic plants, Obama was asked (apparently by a Democratic plant) a question about whether he plans to cut defense spending to reduce the budget deficit. Obama replied:
“The nice thing about the defense budget is it’s so big, it’s so huge, that a 1 percent reduction is the equivalent of the education budget. Not—I’m exaggerating, but it’s so big that you can make relatively modest changes to defense that end up giving you a lot of head room to fund things like basic research or student loans or things like that.”
To borrow a line from Herman Cain: Mr President, with all due respect, you’re wrong.
Obama was wrong. With that reply, he has proven that he knows nothing about defense issues, including the defense budget. Firstly, the defense budget for FY2011 (the current fiscal year) is $530 billion, and the DOD’s base budget request for FY2012 is $553 billion. 1% of these sums is a microscopic $5.3-$5.5 billion, equals just 4.5% of the federal education budget (i.e. the budget of the federal Department of Education), which is $122 billion for the current FY. This is even less than the 7% that the Heritage Foundation claimed.
Cutting the defense budget by $5.5 billion would not provide enough money for student loans nor for basic research programs. And although Obama has not explained what he means by “modest changes”, it’s likely that for him, even cutting the defense budget by 15-20% would be a chump change.
And although he admitted that “We can’t just lop 25% off the defense budget overnight” and that the US military has legitimate equipment needs that must be funded, he nonetheless insisted that defense cuts are needed, prudent, required by a “strategy”, justifiable, and safe for America – which they are not.
As the DOD has reported on its website, Obama said during the Twitter interview that:
“Though he is committed to cutting the Defense Department budget as part of the overall reduction in the federal deficit, U.S.security and strategic needs must drive the effort, President Barack Obama said yesterday in his first Twitter town hall meeting.
Obama said he conducted the meeting to find out what the public thinks about how to reduce the federal deficit, what costs should be cut and which investments should be kept.
Responding to suggestions for cuts in the defense budget, the president said that is not an easy task.
“We can’t simply lop off 25 percent off the defense budget overnight,” he said. “We have to think about all the obligations we have to our troops who are in the field, and making sure they’re properly equipped and safe.” The need to replace outdated military equipment is another budget consideration, the president added.
“We’ve ended the war in Iraq, our combat mission there, and all our troops are slated to be out by the end of this year,” Obama said. And as Afghan forces take more responsibility for their country’s security, he added, U.S. forces will draw down there as well. But drawing down forces and beginning a new phase in Afghanistan must be done “fairly gradually,” he said.
Obama said that while decisions to cut defense spending will be tough, a reduction requires a balanced approach, as with any government program, to shrink the overall federal budget.
“Those who say that we can’t cut military at all haven’t spent a lot of time looking at military budgets,” he added.
However, the president said, the reductions must take place with the nation’s security in mind.
“One of the things that we have to do is make sure that we do it in a thoughtful way that’s guided by our security and our strategic needs,” he said. “And I think we can accomplish that.””
Actually, I have spent more time “looking at”, reading, analyzing, describing, and devising amendments to, America’s (and Britain’s) defense budgets, as anyone who reads my blog and my articles knows. I’ve spent much more time doing it than Barack Obama or any other Democratic politician has. I’ve spent ca. 90% of my spare time doing so during the last 4 years. America can afford to withdraw its troopers from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and to zero its spending on these countries and the GWOT, but it cannot afford to reduce the size of its defense tooth or its base defense budget (which is already too small).
Obama claims that “our security and our strategic needs” should guide defense budget cuts and he thinks “we can accomplish that.” That is not true. One cannot accomplish defense budget cuts that would be consistent with America’s defense needs and strategic needs. Those needs dictate that defense spending be increased, not decreased. They do not require defense spending cuts; quite the contrary is true.
Therefore, one cannot credibly claim that “US security needs and strategy must drive the effort to cut defense spending.”
Moreover, it is ridiculous for him to claim that any cuts he will make to defense spending and America’s military will be justified by strategy. They will not. They will likely be arbitrary cuts that will weaken the US military. Moreover, they will be made SOLELY to meet Obama’s diktat of cutting defense spending by $400 bn over the next 12 years. Moreover, the DOD will likely lie that these cuts are justified, make up some excuses, and produce some “strategy” that will pretend to justify these unjustifiable defense cuts. (That’s what it did in 2010 with the QDR – it was written solely to justify Gates’ unjustifiable defense cuts.)
By ordering the DOD to cut defense spending by $400 billion, Obama has put the cart before the horse. He has ordered massive defense spending cuts and has told the DOD to find out how exactly to make these cuts.
I am appalled, but not surprised, by the fact that Obama is “committed” to reducing defense spending. He’s a wimpy weak Dhimmicrat, just like almost all of his party colleagues.
The Heritage Foundation has rightly commented that:
“The President’s accounting failures aside, there’s an even bigger problem at work. Obama is of the belief that, for starters, $400 billion can be cut from the defense budget over the next 10 years without putting the military at risk. That’s in addition to the approximately $400 billion already cut by the Administration during the previous two years. In turn, he would take those dollars and apply them to pay for his pet projects at home.
The President is proposing those cuts irrespective of the military’s needs.
Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that ill-conceived cuts to defense spending could increase America’s vulnerability in a “complex and unpredictable security environment” and that “the ultimate guarantee against the success of aggressors, dictators, and terrorists in the 21st century, as in the 20th, is hard power—the size, strength, and global reach of the United States military.”
But with the President’s proposed cuts, America’s base defense budget would be at its lowest point in more than 60 years (as a percentage of America’s GDP). Meanwhile, the threats Gates spoke of continue to materialize, while challenges remain in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and throughout the Middle East.
And then there’s the state of U.S. forces. Secretary Gates and the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel have agreed that the U.S. went on a “procurement holiday” in the 1990s. Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz has stated that the present fleet of 187 F–22 fighters creates a high risk for the U.S. military in meeting its operational demands. The U.S. Navy has the fewest number of ships since America’s entrance into World War I. And yet the President sees fit to slash defense?
Contrary to Obama’s belief, the defense budget is not an ATM from which he can pull cash to pay for other projects. And he certainly can’t do it without causing further damage to U.S. military readiness. The Constitution demands that the U.S. government provide for the common defense. That’s a fact the President should keep in mind as he looks for ways to increase domestic spending amid a debt crisis.”
Sadly, yes, Obama sees it fit to deeply cut defense spending, as do his party colleagues and most Republicans (with few honorable exceptions such as Howard McKeon, Allen West, and Randy Forbes) – despite the fact that the PLAN is already larger than the US Navy, Russia and China are waging an arms race against the US, the Russian Navy has more SSBNs than the USN, the USAF’s current fleet of aircraft is the smallest and the oldest it has ever flown (with an average aircraft age of 24 years), the USAF’s ICBMs date back to the 1970s and need to be replaced,the USAF has only 20 stealthy bombers, and access-denial weapons are making current and potential future war theaters unsurvivable and unaccessible for nonstealthy aircraft and warships. The US military has huge legitimate modernization needs, yet both Democrats AND Republicans are committed to radically reducing defense spending, as is Obama.
It is utterly unacceptable for Obama to use defense spending as an ATM from which to finance his pet projects.