The Defense Budget

Historically, both in terms of the geopolitical status in the world, and from the perspective of the global economic frailty, we find ourselves in a window of opportunity to shrink the bloated, wasteful and unnecessary defense budget.

The 2012 defense budget of $646 billion has declined from the war-spending peak of $691 in 2010. But the 2012 budget, which is still in effect because Congress hasn’t passed the 2013 spending bill, is more than double the pre-war $316 billion budget of 2001.

Chuck Hagel could be a Secretary of Defense that could get this done. He has the bona fides, and the first hand experience in war, to legitimize his arguements.

How much can the defense budget be cut and not threaten our national security? My take on this issue is that the military has to find and even create justifications for it’s existence. This is clear in so many instances, where “causus belli” have been manufactured to convince an easily scared public of the need to tragically go to war.

This statement by one of the leadiing Senate hawks I find fascinating. “I’m one of the strongest defense hawks in the Congress,” Graham said. But “if we could come up with an entitlement reform deal that saves Social Security and Medicare and deals with Medicaid and sets spending limits that are sustainable, I would entertain going past $487 billion” in defense cuts over the next decade.

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As a country, we’re trying to craft a “Grand Bargain”, more out of necessity than ideology, but ideology and inflexibility seem to keep getting in the way.

It’s encouraging that even Senate hawks now couple defense spending reductions with other contentious issues. Perhaps defense cuts can pay for social programs. One can dream, right?

3 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. Automaticftp says:

    Our total defense spending needs to be cut substantially.  The levels of fraud, waste, and abuse dwarf levels in any other program – including Medicare and Medicaid.  Just as a small example, while in Afghanistan I inventoried a container that no one had opened in years – and no one knew what was in it.  The contents included about 40,000 Ty Beanie Babies along with children’s rubber boots – which couldn’t be given out because they were made in Pakistan.  

    Four ways to cut:

    First, kill the F-35 program immediately.  We don’t need it, and can’t afford it – the most expensive weapons program in history.  

    Second, cut by one-third the number of officers in grades O-4 and above, and senior enlisteds in grades E-7 and above.  While we’re at it, cut the number of generals and admirals – of which we have almost 1,000 – by half.  

    Third, cut programs like the so-called XM-25 “Punisher.”  The only people that want it are the ones either building and selling it or the ones program managing it.  Updating M-1 tanks and C-130 planes should also stop – the Pentagon itself has said they’re wasteful programs.

    Finally, close many of the bases we have overseas, and think more strategically about where we need to be, and in what strength.  

    We are in the rare position of being able to substantially reduce our total spending on defense while making us more secure – and we need to take advantage of the opportunity.

  2. That is $48.7 billion per year, which would bring us to a point still far above 2001 levels.

    We were stronger than the top 20 nations in the world – combined – in defense spending back then; now we’re stronger than pretty much everyone else in the world combined. Quite simply we don’t need that.

    Pentagon spending is still horribly wasteful. A sensible Pentagon budget would remove earmarked programs and allow the Pentagon – with open bidding processes attracting multiple bidders – to determine which programs it still needs. We also need something to reign in cost overruns on bids.

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