Raul Labrador (RINO-ID) and Harry Reid (D-NV), both of whom are avid supporters of sequestration for the sake of deeply cutting defense, have both recently made utterly false (and very similar) claims in defense of their indefensible positions.
Labrador falsely claims that sparing defense from sequestration (i.e. from a second, much deeper, across-the-board round of budget cuts totalling $600 bn over a decade, on top of all defense cuts already administered and scheduled, including First Tier BCA cuts totalling $487 bn) would amount to taking defense off the table and to protecting “defense contractors and the defense industry”, and thus cause Republicans to “lose our moral authority” to demand budget cuts elsewhere. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-M1zkssiws, at ca. 38:00) Harry Reid, when announcing that he will block any efforts to spare defense from sequestration (even in exchange for massive tax hikes), falsely claimed that nondefense programs “have already been cut to the bare bone” and “it’s time for defense to bear its share of the [budget-cutting] burden.” A recent article by the extremely-leftist Associated Press falsely claims that sequestration would represent “the first outright cuts since the early 1990s.” But that’s BS. The claims of all three of these liberals are blatant lies.
Let’s start with the claim that sparing defense from sequestration would amount to “taking it off the table” and the implication that it has so far been off the table, as well as Harry Reid’s false claim that defense has not, so far, been bearing its share of the budget-cutting burden. The facts are that defense hs been on the table the whole time, continues to be there, and has already contributed more than its fair share of spending cuts and savings. In fact, the Obama Administration targeted the defense budget for cuts on its first day in office. This begun with the massive program closures that Secretary Gates ordered in 2009 and 2010, closing almost 50 weapon programs (mostly needed ones, such as the F-22, the MKV, and the KEI) and thus cutting ca. $300 bn out of modernization accounts. In December 2010, the US ratified the New START disarmament treaty, which obliges it to cut its strategic nuclear arsenal down to just 1,550 warheads. In January 2011, Secretary Gates announced finding another $178 bn in savings and efficiencies. And in August 2011, President Obama signed a Budget Control Act whose first tier ordered the DOD to come up with yet another $487 bn in budget cuts, starting in FY2013 (i.e. on Oct. 1st, 2012), and cuts the defense budget topline. Secretary Panetta presented his plan to implement these $487 bn cuts in January 2012, and the Senate version of the defense budget upholds these cuts.
And as data from both the CBO and the Bipartisan Policy Center shows, defense will be cut in any event, in real terms and as a %age of GDP, in the next fiscal year and going forward. All told, without counting the New START treaty (which is seriously weakening the US military), the DOD has already contributed $920 bn in savings and cuts since 2009 (by Arthur Brooks’s and Ed Feulner’s count in the WSJ), and that’s without counting the sequester. So even before sequestration begins, defense has already been cut $920 bn. So the DOD has already contributed more than its fair share. In other words, it has already been bearing more than its fair share of the budget-cutting burden. In fact, defense has shouldered a disproportionately LARGE share of the burden. Although it amounts to just 19% (and the core defense program to less than 15%) of the total federal budget, it has to contribute 50% of the spending cuts required by both the First Tier and the Second Tier (the sequester) of the BCA. The other 50% is to be distributed among thousands of domestic discretionary programs, while entitlements have, and will continue to, remain off the spending cuts table.
These facts totally refute Labrador’s and Reid’s claim that sparing defense from sequestration would amount to “putting it off the table” and cause Republicans to “lose their moral authority”, and that defense has not so far had to bear its “fair share of the burden”. What about Harry Reid’s claim that nondefense programs “have already been cut to the bare bone”? It’s also a blatant lie. The fact is that nondefense programs – both discretionary and mandatory – have so far seen only tiny cuts, and in most cases, no cuts at all. They have not been “cut to the bare bone” – not even close. As stated above, the other 50% of cuts mandated by the BCA has been spread around so many domestic agencies and programs that for a single agency and program these budget reductions are miniscule. Since 2009, most civilian federal agencies and programs have not had to cut their budgets at all, and the few that had to have seen only tiny reductions. For instance, the President proposes to cut the EPA’s budget by 8% in FY2013. Most civilian federal agencies and programs have seen beefy budget increases, not cuts.
* Since President Obama took office, the State Department’s budget has more than doubled, from $28 bn in FY2009 to more than $56 bn in FY2012.
* For FY2013, the recently-passed Senate version of the State and Foreign Affairs Appropriations Bill would raise spending in that account by 18%!
* The Energy and Water Appropriations Bill recently passed by the House INCREASES spending in that category (but not in nuclear weapon programs) over the FY2012 level. Attempts by Congressman Jeff Flake to freeze that spending category at its FY2012 level and by Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn to cut it by just 1% have been voted down by a huge majority, as have been all other attempts to save some money in that bill.
* The Senate has just passed a bloated, pork-laden farms bill that doesn’t cut farm spending by even one percent and continues bloated, market-distorting farm subsidies. (Not passing such a bill and ending such subsidies would, by itself, be enough to more than offset the cancellation of defense sequestration.)
* The Senate looks almost certain to pass another bloated, pork-laden Highway Bill, following the bloated, pork-laden Highway Bill of 2005, even though America already has the best highway network in the world, far superior to even Germany’s.
* Entitlements, as always, continue to grow on autopilot.
* Welfare spending, despite the “welfare reform” of the 1990s, continues to grow on autopilot. It now amounts to over $900 bn per year, and includes the bloated, dysfunctional, foodstamp program which over 46 million of Americans are now dependent on. In total, the number of Americans dependent on federal welfare programs is the highest ever in American history. Yet, as Ronald Reagan said, welfare programs’ success should be measured by how many people are moved off, not onto, welfare rolls.
Which domestic programs have been cut “to the bare bone”, Senator Reid? The answer is none. While defense has already contributed more than its fair share, nondefense programs – discretionary and mandatory alike – have skated away with tiny cuts or no cuts at all. As a result, defense, although being only a 19% part of the federal budget, has borne a disproportionate, 50% share of the spending cuts burden.
Finally, what about Labrador’s claim that cancelling defense sequestration would mean “protecting defense contractors and the defense industry”? It’s also patently false. While hitting them deeply, and costing over 500,000 people in the defense industry their jobs, it would harm the US military first and foremost. It would mean, inter alia:
* Having to lay off 200,000 troops;
* Deeply cutting the benefits of the remaining troops and military retirees;
* Cutting funding for the troops deployed in Afghanistan, in harms way (war spending is not exempt from sequestration);
* Deeply cutting the size of the military, eliminating dozens of Army brigades, hundreds of fighters and bombers, dozens of ships, and deeply cutting the US nuclear triad, including the bomber fleet by 2/3s and the SSBN fleet by 1/3, and eliminating the ICBM fleet completely;
* Deeply cutting funding for Israeli cooperative missile defense programs and for America’s own BMD programs;
* Cancelling dozens of crucial modernization programs, including the next-gen bomber, the KC-46 tanker, the F-35 fighter, and more;
* Cutting the Marines so deeply that they would not be able to respond to even one major contingency, so if anything bad happens, don’t bother calling the Marines.
These cuts would harm the US military and its members first and foremost, and by weakening the military so badly (practically gutting it), they would completely jeopardize America’s national security and invite aggression against the US and its allies – as always happened each previous time that America deeply cut its defense – after WW1, WW2, the Vietnam War, and the Cold War.
This fact should, by itself, cause any self-proclaimed conservative, indeed any decent person, to oppose sequestration, but if it doesn’t, remember that defense, as proven above, has already borne more than its fair share of the spending cuts burden (and a disproportionate one at that), while other agencies and programs have contributed nothing. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, other generals (both serving and retired), civilian DOD leaders, and outside experts have all stated unanimously that sequestration would hollow out the military. Are they just trying to scaremonger the public, or are they actually right?
No, Congressman Labrador, this is not about “protecting defense contractors and the defense industry”. This is quite literally about protecting America’s national security. And while we’re on the subject, although the federal government should not subsidize and is not subsidizing the defense industry, neither should it disregard the impact of its budgetary decisions on that industry, which is a national asset and not the bugaboo that Labrador and other liberals have tried to make it into. It supplies the troops with the equipment they need. Once destroyed, it can never be recovered. The defense cuts of the 1990s have already decimated it. Sequestration would be the final blow. But of course, the defense industry is a useful political bogeyman that Labrador likes to use.
Labrador’s, Reid’s, and AP’s claims are blatant lies, and ones that have already been stated and disproven time and time again. These strident liberals, one of whom is masquerading as a conservative, should immediately retract their utterly false claims and apologize to the American people for misleading them. Unless they do that, they have no moral authority to speak on budgetary issues. Or any other issues for that matter.