Rebuttal of Winslow Wheeler’s latest blatant lies


On Nov. 1st, the Hill published a litany of blatant lies about Mitt Romney’s defense spending plans written by George-Soros-paid anti-defense hack Winslow Wheeler, who currently works for the Soros-financed POGO and previously worked for the Soros-financed Center for Defense Disinformation, a Russian-controlled disinformation group.

In it, Wheeler states a litany of blatant lies, starting with the following ones:

“Mitt Romney’s proposal to boost defense spending until it reaches “a floor of four percent of GDP [gross domestic product],” as he proclaims at his official website, is an insult to history. This graph shows how unprecedented it is. It tracks spending for the Department of Defense (DOD) from 1948 to 2022, expressed in inflation-adjusted dollars normalized to 2012. The data up to 2012 are actual spending. The data for the years after 2012 show Romney’s plan (in red), President Obama’s (in blue), and the spending to be imposed by sequestration (in green) — the result of the Budget Control Act’s automatic reductions now scheduled for January 2, 2013.

The Romney Plan shown assumes a gradual build up to his four percent goal, as calculated by Travis Sharp at the Center for a New American Security. Compared to other calculations of Romney’s declared intent, it is one of the more modest. (…)

Romney’s plan would boost the Pentagon’s budget more or less $300 billion above the previous post-World War Two highs, namely the Korea and Vietnam wars and the Reagan Cold War peak, and it would more than double the average amount of DOD spending during the Cold War: $440 billion compared to $900 billion.

Assessed against the low points after the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the Reagan era, Romney’s nadir is about $250 billion higher. Even Obama’s lesser plan and the so-called “Doomsday” of sequester are well above the previous draw-down lows — between $150 billion to $100 billion higher, they are extraordinarily well stuffed with money, and yet President Obama, horrified that the lesser might occur, promised that sequester “will not happen.””

And on he went with more blatant lies.

His pathetic screed is a litany of blatant lies. The only thing it shows is that Winslow Wheeler’s stupidity and ignorance know no bounds. Wheeler is dead wrong, because:

1) Romney’s proposal to spend 4% of GDP on defense is not “an insult to history”. It is a very modest proposal, ESPECIALLY compared to historic defense spending levels. Throughout the ENTIRE Cold War, excepting only FY1948, the US spent a larger (usually much larger) percentage of GDP than a meagre 4%. After FY1950, defense spending shot up to teen percentages of GDP, peaking at 14% of GDP. It was reduced during the Eisenhower years, but by FY1961, it still amounted to almost 10% of GDP and the absolute majority of all federal spending. JFK spent 9% of GDP on defense; during the LBJ years, it varied between 7% and 9% of GDP, peaking at over 9% in FY1968. It then began to decline year by year, but even in FY1974, it was still at 5.6% of GDP. Even during the nadir of the Carter years, it never dipped below 4.6% of GDP, and after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, it began climbing up again. By FY1986, it reached 6.2% of GDP, and in FY1989, it was still just slightly below 6% of GDP. In fact, it was not until FY1996 – five years after the Cold War’s end – that defense spending dipped below 4% of GDP.
So throughout the entire Cold War, the US spent more – usually far more – than 4% of GDP on defense. If spending 4% is “an insult to history”, so was spending larger percentages of gross domestic product on defense. In other words, Wheeler is essentially claiming that America was committing “an insult to history” year after year throughout the entire Cold War except FY1948. Needless to say, this is a ridiculous claim. Just like the rest of Wheeler’s screed.
2) The Heritage Foundation (which first proposed the 4% of GDP policy) employs objective analysts, not “politicos”. Although one can’t expect Wheeler – a stridently liberal George-Soros-paid anti-defense hack – to know the difference. He has never been an analyst, only an utterly ignorant anti defense hack. Heritage analysts are far more knowledgeable about defense issues than Wheeler will ever be, so I would caution Wheeler and his fellow POGO anti-defense hacks to respect that institution and learn from it.
3) Yes, America’s current levels of defense spending, at least measured as a share of GDP and of the total federal budget (3.5% and 17%, respectively), are meagre, both on a stand-alone basis and by historic standards. A nation that can’t devote more than a meagre 3.5% of GDP to its own defense is a nation that does not treat its own defense seriously.
4) Wheeler’s and Sharp’s claim that Romney’s plan would increase defense spending to $900 bn is utterly false. It would never be true, not even under the most optimistic economic growth scenarios.
Currently, America’s GDP is $15.29 trillion. 4% out of that is $611 bn, just $86 bn above Obama’s proposed FY2013 defense budget ($525 bn). 4% of GDP will not equal $900 bn for many decades, not even under the most optimistic GDP growth scenarios. For that to be true, the economy would have to grow to $22.5 trillion (i.e. by a full half). This will not happen for at least a few decades, and certainly not by FY2022. So Wheeler’s and Sharp’s claim is FALSE by a long shot. It’s a huge exaggeration of Romney’s plans.
Furthermore, as stated above, Romney’s proposal is “only” $86 bn above Obama’s FY2013 proposal, and that’s assuming that the goal of 4% of GDP would be reached immediately in CY2013. If it’s a goal to be reached in later years, the difference between Romney’s and Obama’s plans is even smaller.
Likewise, Wheeler’s claims about how higher a Romney defense budget would be compared to Cold War levels is patently false and wildly exaggerated.
5) And yes, sequestration WOULD be a deep and permanent cut in defense spending, as even Wheeler’s own fabricated graph tacitly admits, both compared to current levels and to those proposed by Obama. Sequestration, as the CBO reported a few months ago, would cut the base defense budget from $535 today (and the $525 bn proposed by Obama) to a paltry $469 bn in January 2013 (when the sequester is scheduled to kick in) and keep it down for an entire decade. By FY2022, ten years from now, the base defense budget would still be at a paltry $493 bn in today’s money, $42 bn below today’s level and $32 bn below what Obama proposes for FY2013. In other words, sequestration would be a deep, permanent defense spending cut from which defense spending would not recover for at least a decade (if ever). And if it kicks in, Romney will never come even close to having a 4% of GDP defense budget.
Sequestration would gut the US military as it would deprive the military of sufficient funding for operations, training, the maintenance of existing equipment and bases, healthcare programs for the troops (which are in the O&M account), and the development and acquisition of new equipment. There wouldn’t be sufficient funding for anything. And, as even Wheeler’s own graph shows, sequestration would cut and keep defense spending significantly below its levels during the Reagan years, the Korean War, and the peak of the Vietnam War, in real (i.e. inflation-adjusted) terms. Even without sequestration, under the Obama plan, defense spending would be significantly below Reagan era and Korean War era levels, according to Wheeler’s own graph.
6) Wheeler’s graph is factually incorrect, BTW, to claim that military spending has reached $700 bn. It isn’t even close. In FY2012, it stood at $645 bn, counting the base defense budget AND spending on Afghanistan AND the DOE’s defense-related programs. And of course, Wheeler’s graph is totally wrong about Romney’s defense spending plans.
7) Wheeler’s claim that China is “a big bogey man” and America’s 2nd largest trading partner is utterly false. Mexico is America’s 2nd largest trading partner (Canada is the largest), and only 7% of American exports go to China. And yes, Beijing IS an enemy of the US, as evidenced by its behavior towards the US (such as its incessant cyber attacks, blinding an American satellite with laser, harrassing unarmed US ships, stalking an American carrier) and the rhetoric of senior Chinese officers.
China’s military has already closed the vast majority of the gaps with the US and is now working hard on closing the remaining few ones. For example, China now has 3,000 nuclear warheads and is deploying two new ICBMs: the DF-31A and the DF-41A. The US has not deployed a single new ICBM (except the already-dismantled Peacekeepers) since 1976. There are currently no plans to replace them.
8) The claim that Romney is being richly rewarded by defense contractors is a blatant lie. Defense contractors are nowhere among Romney’s top 10 (or even top 20) contributors, and the defense industry is not among Romney’s top 10 contributors, as proven by the http://www.opensecrets.org website. (Don’t take my word for it. Go. Look.)
9) Mitt Romney knows exactly what he wants to spend the additional money on: a much larger Navy, a larger Air Force with new aircraft to replace old ones, and faster development of the Next Generation Bomber, needed to survive in SAM-system-infested environments. Mitt Romney has also proposed specific defense reforms. But reforms cannot, by themselves, pay for the larger and more modern Navy and Air Force that America needs. (And the “reform” that POGO calls for would amount to killing numerous crucial weapon programs, including the NGB, and deeply cutting the force structure, including the nuclear deterrent. Such policies would be suicidal.)
In short, all of Winslow Wheeler’s claims are blatant lies. Not even one word he says is true. Shame on the Hill for publishing his pathetic screed.

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