I realize that, like a cardiologist who thinks everything is related to heart issues, I trend to see federal budget implications no matter what the subject.
But I can't help but wonder if this speech by Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) yesterday, is more about trying to make the Pentagon immune from any deficit reduction plan that is put on the table in the months ahead than eliminating Iran's nuclear capability.
The fear mongers are back in full force in the Wall Street Journal today. Arthur Brooks, Ed Feulner, and Bill Kristol attempted a preemptive strike against anyone who would touch the sacred defense budget or dare to suggest that it might be included in efforts to reduce the federal deficit. And as usual, they are trotting out old half-facts and fear words to try to make their case. As Samuel Beckett said in ENDGAME, “Ah, the old questions, the old answers, there’s nothing like them!”
By now much virtual ink has been devoted to the “cuts” that Secretary of Defense Robert Gates proposes in the defense budget and defense programs. These have been treated as a clear statement of intention that DOD will contribute to the overall effort at restraining federal spending, the deficit, and the growing national debt.
In reality, the Gates strategy does not make any contribution to restraining federal spending or reducing the deficit. And in trying to avoid cutting his budget, he is putting the Pentagon behind the curve in the growing effort to discipline the federal budget and on a collision course with other parts of federal spending and revenues.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates is going to reveal the proposed Pentagon budget for 2010 on Monday. Here's what today's Washington Post had to say about what Gates may do.
On the one hand, this makes no sense.
The Obama administration let it be known last week that its detailed budget proposal won't be released until May, at least several weeks later than had been expected. Revealing the details of the military budget a month or more before the rest of the budget invites it to be taken out of context and, with no other agency or department budgets to look at, for the media to obsess about it.
Continuing the series, we are, using the subtitle of Andrew Bacevich's book, "seduced by war." It seems like an obvious proposition that we could reduce our military spending without compromising our national defense. Plenty of that spending goes to expand our empire, not to protect our citizens. For the right words, I'll turn to page 215 of the book:
A better approach [than pegging military spending as a percentage of GDP], one more likely to limit adventurism abroad while still meeting essential U.S. security requirements, would be to peg U.S. expenditures in relation to what others are spending. To stipulate, for example, that the United States should match the next ten most lavishly spending powers combined would assure U.S. military capabilities not only far in excess of any potential adversary but also in excess of any remotely plausible combination of adversaries. The budgetary impact of such a stipulation--one that if made by another country Americans would view as evidence of rampant megalomania--would be to reap substantial savings. Indeed, at present the United States could earmark for defense as much as the next ten largest military powers combined and still reduce Pentagon outlays by tens of billions of dollars per year.