Jack Hunter’s blatant lies about defense spending and conservatism
Posted by zbigniewmazurak on August 24, 2011
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.”
‘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.