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Obama Joins the Defense Spending Chicken Little Brigade

Leon Panetta has already parroted the Republican line that the tiny cuts to “defense” spending in the sequestration deal would do great unspoken harm to national security. Now the White House has joined in, declaring in a new report from the OMB that the sky is falling if we make a lousy 5% cut:

POLITICO obtained an advance copy of the 394-page White House report, which shed little new light on the sword of Damocles hanging over Washington’s head but sharpened its political point…

“No amount of planning can mitigate the effect of these cuts. Sequestration is a blunt and indiscriminate instrument. It is not the responsible way for our nation to achieve deficit reduction,” the Office of Management and Budget wrote. “”The report leaves no question that the sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments and core government functions.”

Ah yes, deeply destructive to national security. Because we only spend more on “defense” than the next 10 largest nations, a total of 47% of all military spending on the planet. But if that drops to 45%, ZOMG! We’re all going to die! We have Republicans to say stupid things like this; we certainly don’t need Democrats doing it too. And the Republicans are, as always, being hypocrites over the whole thing:

”The release today of a report detailing across-the-board budget cuts—including the cuts to national security that the President demanded during last year’s budget negotiations—highlights the crippling effect these reductions will have on our nation’s security and underscores the urgent need for the President to work with congressional Republicans to replace these destructive cuts,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said.

But the sequestration deal was supported primarily by the Republicans, who voted for the bill at nearly twice the rate as Democrats.

Comments

  1. says

    I favor an across-the-board defense spending cut of 95%. Seriously. Spend half the savings on social programs and infrastructure, 1/4 on multiple manhattan-project style programs to try to solve the sustainable fusion problem, and the rest on education. The only part of the DoD we need to keep is the national guard and the ballistic missile subs. Then, if we solve fusion, we just buy the planet up piecemeal.

    See? I have a “plan” too. Does that make me a Serious Washington Person? I used to even live near Rockville, which is close enough to the beltway, huh? And, somewhere I have a big funny hat (a fore-and-aft with plumes!) so I can probably appeal to the republican base, right?

  2. zippythepinhead says

    The defense cuts aren’t about defense cuts, it’s only a tool to work the actual agenda. Only by exaggerating the cuts out of proportion, can they hope to have any leverage to push their side. Of course both sides are pushing sequestration as Armageddon to force the other’s hand, the Dems to increase taxes on high income and the Reps to preserve the tax cuts.

  3. says

    @Marcus:

    Only problem I have with sweeping defense cuts like that is you kill a whole ton of jobs. Putting people out of work is never good.

    Now on the plus side, you can make massive defense cuts while at the same time creating job opportunities for the people who will lose their jobs. Teach them high-level sciences while working for the military, and then when those defense cuts are made, you can put the money into the sciences.

  4. says

    Only problem I have with sweeping defense cuts like that is you kill a whole ton of jobs. Putting people out of work is never good.

    My plan would involve turning the entire defense/industrial complex into a nuclear fusion research complex and educational complex! Those that aren’t interested in teaching or working on fusion instead of making tanks and planes can work minimum wage jobs fixing bridges, digging ditches, and polishing my fleet of cadillacs!

    Wow. I am starting to see how politicians do it: you just make stuff up and say it as if you’re convinced it’s true!

  5. cry4turtles says

    Absolutely Katherine! Those put out of work can be retrained in sustainable energy production. Then perhaps the ME will finally complete it’s death throes and get the fuck out of the world’s business of living in the now.

  6. says

    My plan would involve turning the entire defense/industrial complex into a nuclear fusion research complex and educational complex!

    Where did you get that idea — Lyndon LaRouche? Seriously, that just sounds batshit nuts. Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?

    Oh, and Ed? You never actually listed any facts that prove the OMB wrong. We currently have two unfunded Republican wars to pay for — which includes some very expensive social and nation-building programs, since these were both wars of OCCUPATION, remember? — and, oh yeah, lots of medical expenses for wounded, crippled, and traumatized vets. Then there’s the Syrian civil war, which could turn into a proxy war if other countries get dragged into it. And have you noticed how things are blowing up in northeast Africa as well? Do you really think cutting defense spending makes even a lick of sense now? This isn’t the ’80s anymore; you need to update your rhetoric.

  7. says

    Yeah, I’m sure when Ed advocates cutting Defense spending, he’s saying we should start with things like VA benefits rather than, say, buying new weaponry and putting it in the hands of new soldiers with which to invade new countries.

  8. baal says

    Check out this chart! Defense spending has literally (used correctly here) doubled since 1990. Did we have enough military in 1990? If so, it’s time to trim way back and not just 2%.

    Bee, the support of veterans (particularly long term health care) is a real concern. The scale we’re talking about there is ~125billion in 2030(guestimating 100% increase over current VA budget, didn’t googlefu a nice chart for this one). We could still take ~150 billion out of the defense budget and not impact that.

  9. gshelley says

    Ah yes, deeply destructive to national security. Because we only spend more on “defense” than the next 10 largest nations, a total of 47% of all military spending on the planet.

    Also more than every other nation in the Americas combined. You can even throw in Japan, China and Russia and the US still comes out ahead

  10. abb3w says

    My understanding is the problem with the cuts is not the size, but how they’re being done; akin to not cutting from six new battleships to five, but cutting one-sixth the money from all six.

    That said, I haven’t looked into the details closely, myself.

    (Yes, I know battleships are no longer built; not the point.)

  11. says

    Raging Bee wrote:

    Oh, and Ed? You never actually listed any facts that prove the OMB wrong. We currently have two unfunded Republican wars to pay for — which includes some very expensive social and nation-building programs, since these were both wars of OCCUPATION, remember? — and, oh yeah, lots of medical expenses for wounded, crippled, and traumatized vets. Then there’s the Syrian civil war, which could turn into a proxy war if other countries get dragged into it. And have you noticed how things are blowing up in northeast Africa as well? Do you really think cutting defense spending makes even a lick of sense now? This isn’t the ’80s anymore; you need to update your rhetoric.

    Wow, talk about scoring an own goal. Yes, this isn’t the late 80s anymore, when the right would justify massive military spending by pointing to the Soviet Union’s military spending. We now spend 47% of all the military spending in the entire world. And you’re seriously going to argue that reducing that margin to a mere 45% will be a terrible blow to our national security? Funny how someone who savages the right borrows their rhetoric so casually. Your comment mirrors exactly what the Heritage Foundation says about defense spending:

    The World Is Still a Dangerous Place: Though the United States is currently in a multi-theater war against terrorism, it can’t ignore threats that might be around the corner. Today’s defense dollars help pay for the military the nation needs in the future.

    But all of this is quite silly. It’s like Shaquille O’Neal playing basketball against a bunch of midgets and saying, “If I was only 6’11 instead of 7’1, that would really damage my ability to score over these guys who are 4’2.”

    And by the way, veteran’s spending is not done by the Pentagon, it’s done by the VA, a separate agency with a cabinet-level director. No one is suggesting that we reduce spending on veteran care; in fact, I think we need to increase that budget substantially.

  12. says

    So what specific spending would you cut, Ed?

    As abb3w said, the problem is not just that there will be spending cuts, it’s that the cuts are indiscriminate. And part of the reason for the dire threats is to get more congressfolks to support an actual coherent budget package to prevent sequestration from happening. And there’s nothing preventing a budget deal from including a more sensible set of spending cuts in the defense sector, if the congress can agree to it.

  13. oranje says

    “If I was only 6’11 instead of 7’1, that would really damage my ability to score over these guys who are 4’2.”

    Did anyone else read that in Shaq’s voice from the Icy-Hot commercials?

  14. says

    The claim that the cuts are indiscriminate is just false. It would cut the defense budget across the board, but that doesn’t mean it cuts every program in the budget equally. The Pentagon would still set spending priorities and have options for where they want the cuts to come from, and they have lots of ways to shift money from one thing to another.

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