Santorum Dishonestly Sounds the Alarm Over Defense Cuts


At a time when the United States is the most powerful military in the world by orders of magnitude over anyone else, it takes some serious distortions to make anyone think that any cuts to defense spending will hurt national security. But Rick Santorum gives it his best shot.

To make matters worse, the only governmental function that has been severely cut back by President Obama and is scheduled to get even more harsh reductions is the most essential of all services – national defense.

Utter nonsense. Defense spending skyrocketed after 9/11 and continued to go up under Obama in 2009 and 2010. In 2011, it went down by a miniscule $9 billion, barely over 1%. In 2012, it was still over $700 billion a year, more than the next ten nations combined (about 50% more, in fact). Only on Planet Wingnuttia could that be called “severe cutbacks.”

President Obama’s own secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, described the cuts as “significant and harmful to our collective mission as an agency.” These cuts, totaling $1 trillion over the next decade would leave us with the smallest military force since 1940 (when we were unprepared for World War II), the smallest Navy since 1915 (when we were unprepared for World War I) and the smallest Air Force since it became a separate military branch in 1947.

Yes, Leon Panetta has been sounding the same idiotic alarm because he, like Santorum, is looking out for the interests of defense contractors instead of the country. The rest of this is so dishonest that his pants should have actually caught on fire when he typed it. That “smallest Navy since 1915″ claim is utter bullshit. Anyone want to trade today’s Navy for that of 1915 just because we have fewer total ships now?

Comments

  1. daved says

    I haven’t seen that “smallest air force” claim before. Where did that one come from? I assume he stole it, and therefore someone else has probably already debunked it.

  2. Zugswang says

    I’m surprised no wingnuts have picked up on the fact that the Union Army had twice as many personnel at the end of the civil war as our current US Army does today. Or maybe even that assertion is just too stupid for them to make.

  3. slc1 says

    These cuts, totaling $1 trillion over the next decade would leave us with the smallest military force since 1940 (when we were unprepared for World War II), the smallest Navy since 1915

    The current US Navy could sink the entire British Grand Fleet of 1915 in the morning, the German High Seas Fleet of 1915 over lunch and the US Fleet of 1915 in the afternoon.

  4. John Hinkle says

    We also have fewer horses and bayonets than we did back then! ZOMG, when did we slash the horse budget?

  5. unbound says

    The smallest air force is technically accurate when you simply count the number of planes. However, it is very disingenuous because each modern air force plane is much more capable than older generations of planes (especially from 1950s)…in fact many (if not most or all) of the modern fighter jets are capable of striking multiple other aircraft simultaneously. And even though the Air Force planes are older (based on the frame), they have been continuously updated over the years, so that isn’t a real issue either.

    The same is true with naval ships. Each ship is substantially more powerful than their predecessors, with even the oldest ships constantly being updated with the latest warfare technology.

  6. Michael Heath says

    Ed writes:

    At a time when the United States is the most powerful military in the world by orders of magnitude over anyone else, it takes some serious distortions to make anyone think that any cuts to defense spending will hurt national security.

    While I think we should make more aggressive cuts in defense than Congress is debating – and invest those savings to grow and better-secure our economy, I think Ed’s sole premise is a defectively narrow framing of the issue if we’re to understand and weigh-in on this policy debate.

    The question isn’t merely how we stack up against individual countries’ defense budgets or even how we stack up collectively against all of them. The U.S. military presence projected outside our borders is a key and critical security feature of the emergent global supply chain. Our actions provide excellent assurances of supply for goods and services which keeps costs and prices relatively low. Security not just from state-sanctioned actors, but non-state actors as well. The U.S. alone doesn’t benefit from this service but the entire globe, e.g., reducing the cost of delivering oil to consuming nations and eradicating economic catastrophes if oil supplies were disrupted.

    I don’t like the fact the U.S. taxpayer subsidizes our security services like this across the globe; I’d prefer we continue to maintain control while getting paid for our services. Primarily because in our own “guns or butter” policy debates, “butter” comes out on the short end of the stick because our spending on defense is so disproportionate to other countries who benefit from our defense spending without carrying the cost of that benefit; leaving more room for their butter projects.

    I also don’t like the fact our services creates negative external costs. One example is our securing the Persian Gulf; that encourages the consumption of oil at the expense of competing products given the cost of our military services are not reflected in the price of oil, and thereby creates distorted market signals making the price of oil far lower than its actual cost. That of course hurts the market share of competing products whose prices are more representative of their total costs.

    So the reality for policy makers doesn’t relate solely to other countries’ defense capabilities, but instead should also focus on securing and defending global GDP, both in the short and I wish, long-term. The latter of which would require U.S. policy makers to stop denying or avoiding the fact of global warming and its emergent costs and security threats.

  7. unbound says

    And, to be fair to Santorum, he isn’t the only throwing out this tripe. Nearly all the Republican congresspeople are putting out this message.

  8. bobafuct says

    Unfortunately, spending cuts tend to impact soldiers and their families first, and that indeed is a matter of national security. We treat our soldiers like shit but spend billions on airplanes and ships that even the military says we don’t need…but Congress members, Dems and Repubs alike, push these boondoggle projects because they benefit the contractors in their districts. Maybe we should put a moratorium on ship and plan acquisitions until we get all military families off food stamps.

  9. says

    I am most concerned about the dreadful lack of knights, phalanxes and swordsman. While simulating the dreadful state of our military, in Civilization III, I, as the Iroquois, was easily able to destroy the Americans with a few dragoons, and that was without the aid of Leonardo’s workshop or the Great Wall. Therefor, if we do not want to see multitudes of Iroquoisian dragoons conquering our cities, we must defund food stamps and move all of that money into buying musketeers.

  10. noastronomer says

    @slc1 Just one carrier battle group would be more than capable of doing all that.

    Mike.

  11. says

    Gee, if the Republicans hadn’t spent the last few decades cutting taxes all over the place, and demonizing everyone who questions the wisdom of cutting taxes all over the place, this wouldn’t be such a huge problem, would it?

    Is Rick Santorum willing to support a tax increase in order to ensure we have enough money to fund our national defense?

  12. scienceavenger says

    Since when does size matter Rick?

    Seriously, this is one issue Democrats ought to go after full force in demonstrating to Joe Average how dishonest and ignorant the GOP message is. It’s fairly easy to understand once the data is laid out, and has a low “pussy factor”, if you will.

  13. says

    I mostly agree with Heath (does that make me a “Heathen?”): constant numerical comparisons of our toys against everyone else’s is incredibly simpleminded, and doesn’t say diddly about our strategic needs or how best to address them. If all we can do is argue over our numbers vs. someone else’s, then we’re really not contributing any more than Santorum is.

    It also distracts attention from the revenue side of the problem: the Republicans are defunding our entire government, then blaming others for the harsh — and totally unnecessary — choices that our real leaders are then required to make. As one Occupy protest sign said, “It’s not a ‘crisis,’ it’s a scam!”

  14. Nick Gotts (formerly KG) says

    I don’t like the fact the U.S. taxpayer subsidizes our security services like this across the globe; I’d prefer we continue to maintain control while getting paid for our services. – Michael Heath

    Ah, I see. You want the rest of the world to pay for being at the mercy of the USA. Protection money, as I believe Mr. Capone called it – and of course, he really would protect your business from the other gangs, as long as you kept up the payments.

  15. D. C. Sessions says

    We could solve the Navy problem by buying a few hundred PT boats and the Air Force problem by having Northrup build another series of Mustangs. Less than 5000 would be needed, and the air racing set would love them!

  16. D. C. Sessions says

    The current US Navy could sink the entire British Grand Fleet of 1915 in the morning, the German High Seas Fleet of 1915 over lunch and the US Fleet of 1915 in the afternoon.

    Why not just do them all at the same time with one CBG and let the rest of the Navy pay for the beer for lunch?

  17. thisisaturingtest says

    @#12, Michael Heath:

    I think Ed’s sole premise is a defectively narrow framing of the issue if we’re to understand and weigh-in on this policy debate.

    Ed’s premise is narrow because it’s strictly a debunking of Santorum’s premise, which is also narrow- the idea that our military isn’t big enough, or well-funded enough, to continue to fulfill its “collective mission as an agency”; and I don’t think Santorum is thinking of that mission as being anything other than strictly military defense (mainly because I don’t think he’s smart enough to see the other ramifications you do).

    The fact is, the deceptive framing is Santorum’s; comparing the size of our Navy today with the size of it 100 years ago is a textbook exercise in specious argument. If the size of our Navy is a concern because of threats from the rest of the world today, then the proper comparison by which to judge if it’s big enough to meet that threat is the threat itself, i.e., the rest of the world today; the size of our own Navy 100 years ago is completely irrelevant.

    You make good points, and I agree with most of them (or at least think they’re worth considering); but they’re not what Ed was addessing.

  18. wscott says

    I think Ed’s sole premise is a defectively narrow framing of the issue if we’re to understand and weigh-in on this policy debate. The question isn’t merely how we stack up against individual countries’ defense budgets or even how we stack up collectively against all of them.

    Exactly right. What matters is how our force levels stack up against the commitments asked of them. And in that context absolute numbers do matter – regardless of how much firepower each individual ship has, it can still only be in one place at a time. Like it or not, we have global commitments that only a (numerically) large military can meet. The problem is that no one on either side of the isle wants to actually talk about what our commitments ought to be; it’s much simpler to just argue over force levels, even tho that’s putting the cart before the horse.

    Similarly the fact that our military is more expensive than everyone else’s does not necessarily mean our military is larger or more powerful than everyone else’s. In terms of actual numbers, the US military is barely in the top 10.

    Ah, I see. You want the rest of the world to pay for being at the mercy of the USA.

    A tad harsh, but it’s true that being “the world’s policeman” isn’t completely altruistic on our part. And that’s part of the problem: we’ve gotten used to the benefits of being the Big Kid On The Block, but no one wants to pay the costs associated with that posture.

    Ed’s premise is narrow because it’s strictly a debunking of Santorum’s premise, which is also narrow

    Yes, but Ed (and other posters) have made te hsame argument in countless other posts. And forgive me for thinking “we’re not as bad as Santorum” isn’t exactly the standard we should be aspiring to. Just because the other side makes dishonest arguments doesn’t give us license to do the same.

  19. thisisaturingtest says

    And forgive me for thinking “we’re not as bad as Santorum” isn’t exactly the standard we should be aspiring to. Just because the other side makes dishonest arguments doesn’t give us license to do the same.

    I don’t think that’s what I said, and I know it’s not what I meant. My only point was that if someone makes a narrow point, then that’s the point that needs to be addressed first. There’s nothing “dishonest” about replying to an argument in the same terms, and on the same grounds, as it was originally made.
    Heath made good points that I (mostly) agree with (he usually does, and I usually do). But the other side also shifts goalposts a lot; do we need to do the same? Let’s address what Santorum said first, and shoot it down; then we can talk about other reasons why what he said doesn’t go far enough in its thinking.

  20. says

    The fact is, the deceptive framing is Santorum’s…

    That’s no excuse for any failure of ours to get outside that framing — especially since the framing is an attempt to distract public attention from the fundamental wrongness and fraudulence of the entire Republican mindset.

  21. thisisaturingtest says

    Raging Bee: Of course not, and it’s not meant to be an excuse. The whole purpose of this comment section is to do just that- expand on the issue in the OP, and get outside the framing, and I think Heath (and others) have done that very well. The only thing I’m saying is that Heath’s criticism of Ed’s OP as “defectively narrow” is misplaced; it ignores that Ed was only addressing the one point that Santorum was making; the rest is up to us. We can certainly expand on the framing without losing sight of the original frame, or criticizing those who address the one point.

  22. Michael Heath says

    Me earlier:

    I think Ed’s sole premise is a defectively narrow framing of the issue if we’re to understand and weigh-in on this policy debate.

    thisisaturingtest responds:

    Ed’s premise is narrow because it’s strictly a debunking of Santorum’s premise, which is also narrow- the idea that our military isn’t big enough, or well-funded enough, to continue to fulfill its “collective mission as an agency”; and I don’t think Santorum is thinking of that mission as being anything other than strictly military defense (mainly because I don’t think he’s smart enough to see the other ramifications you do).

    Ed has posted on this theme before on a general note and made the same argument; so I’m comfortable with my dissent.

    I agree with your criticism of Mr. Santorum, in fact he deserves only ridicule and not much energy at all on a reasonable rebuttal. However, if we only focus on criticizing or ridiculing the absurd arguments of Santorum and his ilk, we risk not thinking sufficiently enough to improve our own positions; where my dissent was a purposeful diversion from Ed’s criticism of Santorum.

  23. thisisaturingtest says

    Michael Heath: I don’t remember the topics of Ed’s previous posts on this subject; but I’m fairly sure that if he made the same argument before, it’s because he was addressing the same point. And, of course, there’s nothing wrong with a “purposeful diversion” from an OP; that’s what these comments are for.

Leave a Reply