The defense industry and their colleagues in the US Congress are wringing their hands over scheduled cuts to the Pentagon’s budget, which Congress postponed for at least two months last week with their tax bill.
The so-called ‘fiscal cliff’ – the set of tax increases and spending cuts scheduled to begin in 2013 – was dealt with only half of the way with last week’s legislation on tax rates. A decision on what to do about those so-called “sequestration” cuts has been postponed for at least two months.
The worst case scenario for the Pentagon budget is about $500 billion in cuts over the course of tens years. Which isn’t really a cut at all – it’s a reduction in the rate of growth in defense spending.
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.
“I will fight anybody from any party that wants to destroy the Defense Department,” Senator Lindsey Graham told reporters Thursday. “If you think defense is not the No. 1 role of the federal government, you’ve lost you’re way in terms of constitutional priorities.”
“Other issues have overtaken national security as being more important,” Mackenzie Eaglen, a defense analyst at the conservative-leaning American Enterprise Institute told The Hill.
“I think it does show how the Republican Party is no longer the party of national security, no longer a big-tent party of Reagan Republicans where a strong defense was a central tenet of conservatism.”
Or, it’s a reflection of the fact that more Americans are killed by their own furniture each year than from the biggest national security threat Washington can conjure up, terrorism.
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.