Jack Hunter’s blatant lies about defense spending and conservatism

The Daily Caller has recently published yet another ridiculous article written by self-described Official Ron Paul Blogger Jack Hunter, an isolationist pacifist.

His article is utter garbage, just like everything that this utterly discredited, biased, pro-Ron-Paul, isolationist kook writes. His entire article is a litany of lies.

Here’s just a sample:

“Why is it that the national debt exploded between 2003 and 2007, when Republicans controlled the presidency and both chambers of Congress? Why is it that even when Ronald Reagan, the last real conservative president, sat in the White House, government grew astronomically?

If you asked the average conservative during the Bush years why government continued to grow so rapidly, the typical answer was “We are fighting two wars.” When asked why Reagan did not fulfill his promise to scale back the federal government, conservatives typically reply by either saying that the Democrats did not follow through on their spending-cut pledges or that we were fighting the Cold War.

“Wars cost money,” Franklin Roosevelt once said, and there’s no doubt any nation would pay virtually any cost to counter a real threat. Conservatives almost unanimously supported Reagan’s defense build-up because they believed the Soviet Union was a serious threat. Most conservatives gave Bush a pass on his profligate spending because they considered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to be top priorities.”

Hunter continued:

‘This year, the United States will spend more on defense than it has at any time since World War II. We will spend more on defense than any other nation on earth and almost as much as the entire rest of the world combined. What monumental threat to the U.S. exists today that justifies spending more on defense than we spent during the Cold War?”

Those are blatant lies. The current defense budget (the FY2011 budget) is $528.9 bn. The defense budgets for FY1985, FY1986, FY1987, FY1988 and FY1989 were all MUCH LARGER in real terms (i.e. in inflation-adjusted dollars). If spending on Iraq and Afghanistan is counted, the military budget is indeed larger in raw dollars than it was during the Cold War, but:

1) spending on Iraq and Afghanistan has nothing to do with defense, it’s nationbuilding project spending; and
2) as a %age of GDP, as a proportion of the total federal budget, and as a proportion of discretionary spending, the US STILL spends MUCH LESS on its military (including on the GWOT) than it did during the entire Cold War, except the late 1940s (the period of post-WW2 military mobilization). You see, raw dollars (whether inflation-adjusted or not) are irrelevant for long-term comparisons. Inflation erodes the dollar’s value, and prices of things change dramatically over time, due to many factors.

Hunter also lied that the US spends almost as much as the entire rest of the world combined. According to the SIPRI, America’s total military budget for FY2010 (the last year for which SIPRI has data) accounted for only ca. 43% of the global total. Moreover, Hunter’s complaints about America’s share and about its defense budget being larger than that of any country combined are irrelevant. The size of the US defense budget should be determined by America’s defense needs, which are large (remember, the US military has to defend over 9 million sq kms of territory and a population of 300 mn people, and to keep the world’s sealanes and airspace open, otherwise America’s economy – totally dependent on global trade – will be choked). Thus, how much other countries spend on their militaries is totally irrelevant regarding how much the US should spend on defense.

Hunter’s claim that:

“Abizaid makes an important and glaring point — no nation can compete with America’s military might, especially not Iran.”

is false. Russia (whose military has been rebuilt by Vladimir Putin) and China can compete and are competing with America’s military might.

Jack Hunter, like his idol Ron Paul, is once again peddling the popular libertarian lie that a strong defense or robust funding for defense constitute “Big Government” and are antithetical to the principle of “limited government.” This is a blatant lie. We conservatives believe in LIMITED GOVERNMENT, not NO GOVERNMENT AT ALL. We believe that the federal government should be limited to just a few functions, but that it does have a few legitimate functions and that one of them is defense. Hunter and Paul, on the other hand, believe that robust funding for government is “militarism” and “a Big Government policy”.

Hunter also lied that:

“Why is it that even when Ronald Reagan, the last real conservative president, sat in the White House, government grew astronomically?”

Except that it DIDN’T. Government spending grew was halted and the size of the federal government, as a percentage of GDP, SHRANK, despite Reagan’s massive military buildup.

“If you asked the average conservative during the Bush years why government continued to grow so rapidly, the typical answer was “We are fighting two wars.”

But actually, less than 10% (ca. 8%, actually) of the Bush Spending Splurge went to defense accounts, and the rest was spent on civilian programs – the ED, farm subsidies, the 2005 highway bill, the DHS, the prescription drug benefit, bailouts, the stimulus, the TARP, etc. Bush, not Obama, started all of these programs. Obama has merely doubled down on them. The military received less than 10% of the FY2001-FY2009 Bush budgetary hike.

“Odd indeed. There is a debate within the GOP right now between Tea Party members who recognize the need to cut government spending across the board, and Republicans who are willing to cut everything but the military.”

Garbage. Most Tea Party members OPPOSE defense spending cuts. A recent Gallup poll says that only 27% of Tea Partiers support defense cuts.

“Realistically, we can’t balance the budget or reduce the national debt without addressing the black hole that is Pentagon spending.”

Defense spending is not a “black hole”, it’s a limited, specifically appropriated budget item which is NOT bankrupting America and is NOT the cause of America’s fiscal woes. The Heritage Foundation has proven that even if military spending is eliminated entirely tomorrow, federal spending (and with it, the public debt) will continue to grow quickly every year. So cutting defense spending will NOT solve America’s fiscal problems.

Stephen Walt is an anti-Semitic, pro-Iranian leftist liar. He’s also lying about military spending. America’s total FY2008 military budget was not $692 bn. Not even close. The base budget was $523 bn and there was a GWOT supplemental. All of that amounted to much less than $692 bn.

Iran IS a threat to the US, although indeed not nearly of the same magnitude as the Soviet Union, Putinist Russia, or Communist China. It’s a regional player, not a global one. Still, it does threaten US interests abroad, IS working on nuclear weapons, does have BMs capable of reaching every European capital (including Lisbon, Dublin, and London), and has perpetrated aggression against the US. Claiming that it’s not a threat to the US at all is ridiculous. Only an isolationist loon like Hunter or a leftist professor like Stephen Walt would say something like that.

Will Iran nuke limited government?


2 thoughts on “Jack Hunter’s blatant lies about defense spending and conservatism”

  1. First off, I want to say that you have no idea wtf you’re talking about. Nevermind the concept of non-appropriated spending, which you ignore across this entire blog, there’s about 20 different points to which you are either ignorant or distorting facts for your own agenda.

    1. “Hunter also lied that the US spends almost as much as the entire rest of the world combined.”
    Jack hunter probably got his info from this pie chart, which cites 2008 defense data. Our spending since then has only gone up, and even liberal writers at Salon have used this exact same chart to contest Obama’s increased budget spending.

    2. “The current defense budget (the FY2011 budget) is $528.9 bn.”
    Where did you get this information? Oh, that’s right, you only acknowledge the baseline budget. For one, we spent almost $700 billion in FY2010 – according to SIPRI. Every estimate I can find about US “Defense” spending puts the 2011 costs at somewhere over around $725 billion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Defense_Spending_Trends.png), and they don’t factor in the $890 million we spent on Libya.

    Do research, cite links, and you will find yourself completely wrong on this whole article. Oh, and you’re a name caller.

    “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.” -Daniel Patrick Moynihan

    1. Actually, YOU are the one who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Firstly, there is no such thing as “non-appropriated spending.” This would be illegal and unconstitutional because, under the US Constitution, “No money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in consequence of Appropriations made by law.” The DOD is not authorized to spent even one cent by executive fiat, and is not authorized to move more than $50 mn from one DOD account to another.

      As for your 2 other blatant lies:

      1) Hunter was lying. FY2008 and FY2009 data are obsolete. Defense spending increased from FY2008 to FY2010, from $530 bn to $550 bn in real terms (i.e. in inflation-adjusted dollars) but then declined to $528.9 bn this FY, and is scheduled to be cut by $350 bn over the next decade (i.e. by $35 bn per year, on average). According to the SIPRI, the US was responsible only for 43% of the world’s total military spending in calendar year 2009 (and their figures included total military spending, including

      2) What is my source for the $528.9 bn figure representing the core defense budget? The official website of the DOD:

      The SIPRI does claim that the total US military budget, including spending on Iraq, Afghanistan, and the DOE’s defense-related programs, was $698 bn in FY2010, i.e. almost $700 bn, but not quite $700 bn, let alone $725 bn. Moreover, they estimated that in FY2010, even with this entire military budget, the US was responsible for only 42.8% of total global military budget, far short of the “more than half of military spending” that Hunter attributed to the US.


      Furthermore, the SIPRI estimates that the US spends only 4.7% of GDP on its military (which is lower than during all Cold War years except FYs1948-1950 and FYs1979-1980, according to http://www.truthandpolitics.com), while Israel spends 6.3%, the UAE spends 7%, and Saudi Arabia spends 11%. America’s Cold War era rival, Russia, is not far behind the US, according to SIPRI: it spends 4.3% of its GDP on its military.

      “Every estimate I can find about US “Defense” spending puts the 2011 costs at somewhere over around $725 billion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:U.S._Defense_Spending_Trends.png), and they don’t factor in the $890 million we spent on Libya.”

      That’s because you look only for “sources” and “estimates” that repeat your blatant lies, and not to objective sources. The total DOD budget for FY2011 is $688 bn($528.9 bn + $159 bn), according to the DOD’s official website:

      Wackypedia is a credible source of information? Pleeease.

      If Wackypedia is representative of the sources you use, then I’m not surprised that you are as ignorant as you are.

      As Senator Moynihan said, “people are entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.” And the fact is that you and Jack Hunter are wrong.

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