The extremely leftist, anti-defense group calling itself the “Project on Government Oversight” (“POGO”) has teamed up with other leftist anti-defense organizations such as George Soros’s Code Pink and written a letter to members of Congress hailing the Mulvaney-Frank Amendment to the FY2013 Defense Approps bill (which cut the bill by over $1 bn) and calling for deeper defense cuts. In that letter of July 19th, they made a number of utterly false claims. Here’s a brief rebuttal of them.
1) They claim that the “Pentagon budget” is “bloated” and that defense spending is “runaway”.
But the fact is that the DOD budget is anything but “bloated” or “runaway”. It (including both the base defense budget and OCO spending and the DOE’s defense-related programs) amounts to just 4.21% of America’s GDP (which is $15.29 trillion according to the CIA World Factbook) and 17.43% of the total federal budget ($3.699 trillion in FY2012). Throughout the entire Cold War, except FY1948, the US devoted a larger share of its economy and federal budget to defense. America’s military budget is at a historic low today, both as a percentage of GDP and as a share of the total federal budget. Even the CSBA says that it’s affordable and “consistent with long-standing national priorities.”
No honest person can look at the military budget, look me in the eye and tell me with a straight face that a 4.21% portion of America’s national wealth is “bloated”.
2) They claim that military spending has grown by 95% since 2001.
Although this is a popular myth (which has appeared in many variations), it’s completely false. The FY2001 budget was $291.1 bn in nominal dollars, i.e. $387.93 bn in today’s money (adjusted for inflation, which erodes the value of the dollar). Today’s military budget is $645 bn, representing only a 65% increase. The base defense budget, $531 bn, represents growth of only 35% since FY2001.
And it is important to know the CONTEXT of the FY2001 defense budget. It was adopted at the nadir of the defense cuts of the 1990s and was very widely recognized to be woefully inadequate – by Clinton’s own Joint Chiefs of Staff, by CSIS, and even by longtime budget hawks critical of the DOD such as John Kasich (R-OH), who said “We need to put more money into the Pentagon”. Kasich recommended a $50 bn annual defense budget increase; the CSIS, a $100 bn annual budget increase (both figures in CY2000 dollars).
3) They claim that deep cuts are “needed”.
But they are not needed. They would, in fact, be disastrous, damaging to America’s national defense and national security, and foolish. Nor would they do anything meaningful to balance the budget: $66 bn per year will be a big cut for the DOD, but it won’t come even close to balancing the federal budget. And as the budget plans of Congressman Paul Ryan, the RSC, and Sens. Toomey and Lee have shown, you can balance the budget (within 5-8 years in the latter three plans’ case) without deep defense cuts. So such draconian defense cuts are NOT necessary.
The Joint Chiefs, other senior officers, many retired officers, the DOD’s civilian leaders, and many outside experts have stated that sequestration would be disastrous. So regarding the Joint Chiefs and other senior military officers, there are only 3 possibilities: a) they’re blatantly lying to scaremonger the public; b) they’re ignorant hacks blathering nonsense about stuff they know nothing about; or c) they’re actually right about sequestration. Which is it, folks?
4) They claim majority of Americans supports defense cuts to the tune of $103 bn per year.
But the only “poll” they cite in support of their claim is a rigged poll by two biased, liberal organizations – the NPR and the CPI* – both of which advocate deep defense cuts. Two other polls show that a majority of Americans OPPOSE defense spending cuts, one of them by Gallup, arguably the most accurate pollster in America, and one done for OpenCongress. See here. Also see here.
“When Gallup asked Americans last summer whether they favored defense cuts as a way to reduce the deficit, 47% were in favor and 51% opposed.”
Even if the rigged poll’s result was accurate, however – which it is not – it would be irrelevant. America is NOT a democracy; it is a Constitutional Republic with a federal government assigned limited functions (the foremost of which is national defense). It doesn’t matter what a majority of Americans wants; what matters is what the Constitution says.
The Constitution REQUIRES the federal government to provide adequately for the common defense. Entitlement and welfare programs, however, along with the Departments of Education, Energy, Labor, Agriculture, Transportation, HUD, and HHS are unconstitutional.
Yet, if the federal government proceeds with sequestration, it will utterly fail to provide adequately for the common defense, for neither the funding nor the force structure will be even close to adequate, and most modernization programs will be cancelled for a lack of funding.
Quite simply, POGO’s and CodePink’s letter to members of Congress is full of false claims. Members of Congress should completely ignore it.
*The CPI is widely considered to be “progressive” and liberal. The NPR’s leftist orientation is widely known.