Rebuttal of Joe Scarborough’s blatant lies


Pseudoconservative MSNBC host Joe Scarborough is still pretending to be a conservative, and even more hillariously, he’s lecturing Mitt Romney and other Republicans about “conservative ideas” and “winning the battle of ideas”. Scarborough says that Mitt is in electoral trouble and claims that this is because:

“the man refuses to stick his neck out and take a stand on the critical issues of our time.

Here are just a few:

(…)

DEFENSE SPENDING: The U.S. military-industrial complex is bloated beyond belief, and yet all Mitt Romney can do is promise bigger budgets and longer wars. Today the United States spends more on its military than all other countries combined. This does not make America safer. This puts us deeper in debt and poses a far greater threat to America’s long-term health than Russia and China combined.

Romney’s penchant for one-upmanship on seemingly every foreign policy issue that arises would stretch our military thin and limit our ability to neutralize real threats coming from countries like Iran.”

Those are blatant lies, and Joe Scarborough should immediately retract them and apologize for them.

Firstly, there is no “military-industrial complex” in the US. Secondly, the US military budget is not bloated at all. It amounts to just 4.22% of America’s GDP and less than 17% of the total federal budget. Base defense spending equals a paltry 3.47% of GDP and less than 15% of the total federal budget! (See the below Heritage Foundation graph.)

Thirdly, the US does not spend more on its military than all other countries combined – not even close. As the most recent data from SIPRI shows, the US accounts for only 41% of the world’s total military spending, and that’s only if you accept SIPRI’s woefully understated figures for China and Russia (the real Chinese military budget, according to the DOD, is between 160 bn and 250 bn this year). Even that doesn’t account for the huge PPP differences between the US and countries like China and Russia, which mean you have to multiply their military budgets by a factor of at least 3. So no, the US does outspend the rest of the world. Not even close.

Fourthly, the claim that defense spending is causing America’s fiscal woes and putting it in deeper debt is also a blatant lie. Defense spending has nothing to do with America’s budgetary problems (it’s hard for it to be a problem when it accounts for less than 17% of total federal spending!). Its growth from FY2008 to today has been marginal, and its growth over the last decade has also been modest, as the following graphs from Senate Budget Committee Republicans prove.

Moreover, even deep cuts in defense spending would not even make a dent in the federal budget deficit, which is 1.3 trillion this FY, or in the debt, which is 16 trillion dollars. Heck, even eliminating military spending entirely would not reduce the budget deficit significantly, as the Heritage Foundation has proven in its research and depicted in this graph:

As this graph proves, even if military spending were eliminated completely, federal spending (and with it, the budget deficit) would see only a modest reduction, and only for a few years – before climbing back up and then growing nonstop as a result of growing entitlement spending.

Cutting defense spending is NOT a solution – not even a partial one – to the budget deficit.

And deep defense cuts are not necessary to balance the budget, as proven by the budget proposals of the Republican Study Committee and Senators Toomey, Lee, and Paul, all of which would balance the budget in 5-8 years without deep defense cuts.

Yet, deep defense budget cuts would gravely weaken the US military, as demonstrated by myself and many others through holistic analysis (for examples, see here, here, here, here, here, and here), and as confirmed by the Joint Chiefs, Obama’s own Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense, other DOD officials (civilian and military), and President Obama himself.

The basic reason is that in order to have a sufficiently strong military, you need sufficient funding for everything the military needs – high-quality personnel, training and healthcare programs for them, operations, the maintenance of existing bases and equipment, and the development and acquisition of new equipment. If you deeply cut funding for that, you will gut the military, and thus, it won’t be strong. And consequently, you will not be secure.

Scarborough, like a typical liberal, downplays the threats posed by Russia and China. But the fact is that, as analysis by myself and others has proven, the US no longer enjoys a large margin of superiority over them, only marginal, small advantages in several categories of capabilities and weapons – advantages that are already eroding and will continue to do so unless the US invests in them adequately. China and Russia have already caught up with the US in most categories of military capabilities and weapons, and enjoy superiority over the US in other areas (such as tactical nukes, where Russia enjoys a huge edge over the US).

This is partly due to their significant and growing investments in their militaries, and in large part due to the globalization of advanced technology (which helped them make great technological leaps), a highly skilled and disciplined workforce and defense industry, and a disciplined, skillful design of these weapons. Globalization means that advanced technology has spread globally; and the success of Chinese and Russian defense industries means that advanced weapons of quality comparable or superior to most American weapons are now proliferating globally.

Consequently, the US enjoys only a marginal advantage, and only in some categories of capabilities and weapons. In air superiority, the US is no longer uncontested. China and Russia have their own F-15-class fighters such as Flankers, MiG-29SMTs, and JF-17s (all of which are better and younger than US legacy fighters), their own AWACS and tanker aircraft, SAM systems capable of detecting and shooting down any nonstealthy aircraft, and their own 5th generation stealth fighter programs (the PAKFA, the J-20, and the F-60), which they intend to procure in the high hundreds while the US has stopped producing Raptors at just 187 aircraft.

China and Russia are huge threats to America, and their severity is only growing with time. America’s military power is declining while theirs is growing fast.

Yet, contrary to Scarborough’s lies, Romney is not promising “longer wars”. He proposes to end the Afghan war at the same time Obama wants to – 2014 – and like Obama, says that the military option is on the table, although Romney probably really means it, whereas Obama doesn’t. In any case, both candidates say they’re willing to bomb Iran.

And what about Scarborough’s “bigger budgets” claim? Romney proposes to increase base defense spending from today’s laughably low level of 3.47% of GDP – the lowest since before Pearl Harbor, if you exclude the 1990s – to a still paltry and insignificant 4% of GDP. But because Afghan war spending would decline, and eventually zero out when US troops leave Afghanistan, that means defense spending growth would stop at 4% of GDP.

Last but certainly not least, Scarborough is not, and has never been, a conservative, let alone the leader of any “conservative opposition.” A true conservative does not advocate defense cuts; he opposes them. To be a conservative, you must support a strong defense and robust funding for it; if you do not, or worse, if you advocate deep defense cuts like Scarborough does, and lie about defense issues, you are NOT a conservative and have no right to call yourself one.

Joe Scarborough’s claims are, in short, blatant lies. He should retract them and apologize to Governor Romney.

http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0912/81132_Page2.html

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