Pentagon Prepares for Defense Cuts

The consequences of defense cuts are being wildly exaggerated

by John Glaser, January 29, 2013

The Pentagon is preparing for cuts to the defense budget, mandatory automatic measures that will begin to kick in within the next few months. But the consequences of those cuts are being unreasonably portrayed as overwhelmingly negative.

Congress postponed the sequestration cuts for at least two months in the first week of January with their new tax bill.

The worst case scenario for the Pentagon budget is about $500 billion in cuts over the course of ten years. Which isn’t really a cut at all – it’s a reduction in the rate of growth in defense spending, and would only set back defense spending back to 2007 levels.

Still, defense corporations accustomed to sucking from Congress’s tit, especially in the profligate post-9/11 years of massive increases in defense spending, are worried about the minor cuts, and their surrogates in Washington are voicing their concerns loudly.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations for the US, outlined measures he’ll take for the budget, including ship maintenance and a civilian hiring freeze.

The military is also looking to weaken their definition of “prompt global strike,” which refers to the ability to bomb any spot on the planet within one hour. Such absurd standards for proper defense are perfect examples of why the Pentagon needs cuts.

And it’s not so much about defense. Instead, people are fighting for their piece of the pie of the available tax dollars the federal government can dole out.

“With dollars increasingly short, combat commanders and service chiefs lately are battling not as much over warfighting plans as they are over getting a piece of the budget pie,” reports Global Security Newswire.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, announced it has begun laying off 46,000 contract and temporary civilian employees.

But defense spending is not a jobs program. At least, it’s not supposed to be. As far as the health of the economy is concerned, defense budgets are a net drain. The jobs that these rent-seeking defense corporations maintain only show what big business can do with taxed and diverted wealth.

As the Cato Institute’s Chris Preble wrote recently, “It’s easy to focus exclusively on the companies and individuals hurt by the cuts and forget that the taxed wealth that funded them is being employed elsewhere.”

The minuscule defense cuts being contemplated could easily target areas of waste. The major source of growth in annual defense budgets since 2001 has been mostly (54%) due to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, much of the rest has been spent on wasteful superfluous weapons technology, bloated salaries and benefits plans, and expensive peacetime operating costs for the 900-plus military bases in 130-plus countries around the world.

Currently, the US spends more on its military than the next fourteen largest military spending countries combined. Warnings of doom to the economy, or to national security, are unfounded scare stories coming from the groups of people who benefit most from the government’s most lucrative and deadly welfare program.

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