GOP Senators Want to Scuttle Defense Cuts

Three of the allegedly moderate Republicans in the Senate — John McCain, Lindsay Graham and Kelly Ayotte — are working to make sure not one dollar comes out of the defense budget. Because it will harm our national security, so be afraid, be very afraid.

“This past weekend, President Obama’s own Secretary of Defense said the budget cuts looming under sequestration will ‘weaken the United States’ and ‘make it much more difficult for us to respond to crises in the world.’ The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed that ‘we will become less safe’ if these cuts go through.

“While the President last year promised that sequestration ‘will not happen,’ he has declined to address this looming crisis for more than a year. We appreciate that the President now wants to come to the negotiating table and we will examine his proposal closely.

“Every time we have a crisis in this country, President Obama’s solution is to raise taxes. With the economy still struggling and job growth very weak, the last thing America needs is a tax increase.

“In the coming days, we will be introducing legislation – as we did last year – to avoid the first year of defense budget cuts by reducing the size of the federal workforce though attrition as recommended by the Simpson-Bowles Commission. This common-sense approach avoids a damaging self-inflicted wound to America’s security, and we hope the President will join us in this effort.”

Oh god yes. If we cut $50 billion out of the $750 billion defense budget, we’ll reduce our total share of the world’s military spending down to almost 45%. How ever will we defend ourselves with a military more than five times larger and 100 times more powerful than the next strongest country? I’ll be shaking in fear! And isn’t it amazing that the only government spending that ever spurs the economy is military spending?

24 comments on this post.
  1. Jordan Genso:

    While I agree that the defense budget needs to be scaled back, I also understand the argument that the method laid out in the sequestor is not an efficient way to do it. The cuts implemented in the sequestor are not the cuts that we need in the defense budget, but cuts that actually do economic harm. I can’t evaluate the legitimacy of such arguments, but if true, I think it may be why so many Republicans are willing to let the sequestor occur.

    If the sequestration cuts in military have a noticeably negative impact on the economy (like the defense cuts last quarter did as they contributed to the shrinking of the economy), and if military families feel the brunt of the cuts, then they can be used by the Republicans in the future as to why we can’t cut the military budget any further. If instead, the cuts in the sequestration were optimally designed, then letting the sequestration occur would be bad for the Republicans as it would be evidence of how wrong they’ve been on military spending.

    Since it’s difficult for me to view the Republicans as putting the country’s best interest ahead of their own political interest, I do think they’re looking at the sequestor cuts to defense as being a political net gain in the long term. They get to slow the economic recovery (which makes the President look bad), they get the other cuts included in the sequestration (which they want), and they get poorly designed cuts to the defense budget that will help them fight any other defense cuts in the future.

  2. John Pieret:

    Hey! who knows when all those nations among the top military spenders, like Brazil, India, Russia, China and all those NATO members will gang up on us and almost have as much military strength as we do?

  3. doublereed:

    While I agree that our defense budget is bloated, the fact is this is a terrible time to cut spending at all. We still have high unemployment, and we are still recovering. If anything, we should be increasing our spending to get back on our feet.

    Just recently the CBO released a report saying that last year’s defense cuts shrank our economy. Let’s not do that again.

    This obsession with deficit reduction is completely uncalled for. Our priority should be jobs jobs jobs.

  4. Blondin:

    I wonder how much they could save if they just cut the horses & bayonets budget altogether.

  5. Modusoperandi:

    “Every time we have a crisis in this country, President Obama’s solution is to raise taxes.”

    Actually, it’s a “balanced approach”, via things like the “balanced” Simpson-Bowles commission. Because that’s what Obama does.
     

    “In the coming days, we will be introducing legislation – as we did last year – to avoid the first year of defense budget cuts by reducing the size of the federal workforce though attrition as recommended by the Simpson-Bowles Commission.”

    Hey! That thing I said before!
     
    doublereed “If anything, we should be increasing our spending to get back on our feet. Just recently the CBO released a report saying that last year’s defense cuts shrank our economy. Let’s not do that again.”
    If government spending is stimulus, then it’s best to put the spending into things that provide the best bang for the buck. Defense is so far down on that list…so very far…F35s pale beside functioning bridges, electrical grid, etc.

  6. Gretchen:

    While I agree that our defense budget is bloated, the fact is this is a terrible time to cut spending at all. We still have high unemployment, and we are still recovering. If anything, we should be increasing our spending to get back on our feet.

    Then try spending that money on something useful that also provides jobs. Such as infrastructure improvement and repair, disaster relief, and, you know, healthcare.

  7. Rodney Nelson:

    There are 20 aircraft carriers in commission in various navies. The US Navy has 10 of them, all “supercarriers” (60,000 tons or greater displacement). No other country has a supercarrier. So the question arises, why does the US need half of the carriers in the world and all of the largest ones?

    Incidentally the 100,000 ton carrier Gerald R. Ford is scheduled to be commissioned in 2015, followed by her sister-ship the John F. Kennedy in 2020.

  8. Raging Bee:

    “Every time we have a crisis in this country, President Obama’s solution is to raise taxes.”

    Well yeah, a “crisis” generally means you have to do something big to make things better, and that kind of thing costs more money, so raising taxes to get more money when you need it kinda makes sense.

    And it makes even more sense when the “crisis” is caused by lack of funding due to Republican tax cuts.

  9. Raging Bee:

    Just recently the CBO released a report saying that last year’s defense cuts shrank our economy.

    But…Atlas Farted or something!

  10. hackerguitar:

    The idea that defense cuts slow the economy (while apparently cutting social services etc don’t) is called “weaponized Keynsianism.”

    It’s magic!

    Money spent on defense can help the economy, but money spent on social services, infrastructure, education, libraries, et cetera, are wasteful drains on the economy.

    I have to listen to this nonsense all the time….and it’s really fun to try to get the nitwits making the case to identify the qualitative difference between a dollar spent on defense and a dollar spent on infrastructure. Mostly, what I get is bluster about how government is too inefficient to spend a dollar on infrastructure et al, and then I point out that the military is a branch of the government, and note the $500 toilet seats…..and that the qualitative difference *still* hasn’t been identified.

  11. Raging Bee:

    Then try spending that money on something useful that also provides jobs. Such as infrastructure improvement and repair, disaster relief, and, you know, healthcare.

    Well, rebuilding infrastructure in the countries we invaded, and helping them maintain their own stability after our troops leave, sounds pretty useful to me. (We tried the alternative in Afghanistan after the Soviets left, and that didn’t work out well for anybody.)

  12. typecaster:

    Incidentally the 100,000 ton carrier Gerald R. Ford is scheduled to be commissioned in 2015, followed by her sister-ship the John F. Kennedy in 2020.

    And the new Enterprise will be commissioned in 2025, so at least there’s a cool factor involved there.
    .
    I mean, we gotta have an Enterprise in the fleet, right?

  13. jnorris:

    Cutting the Defense budget will prevent the army from taking our guns.

  14. AsqJames:

    doublereed :

    If anything, we should be increasing our spending to get back on our feet. Just recently the CBO released a report saying that last year’s defense cuts shrank our economy. Let’s not do that again.

    Just to add to what Modusoperandi & Gretchen said, military spending is a poor method of economic stimulus for a number of reasons. One is that very little of what the “defense” industry produces is available for private purchase (few private companies or individuals are in the market for tanks, destroyers or war planes). So the industry you have expanded through government spending can only be maintained at that level by ever increasing (or at least never decreasing) government spending or by exports to foreign governments.

    The former is what every conservative claims to be against. And the latter is deeply problematic too – if you don’t end up fighting against US made equipment somewhere down the line, the governments you’re selling it to will eventually run into the same problem of being unable to support ever-increasing military spending. In addition, spending so much on their armed forces and so little on things which benefit the population at large (infrastructure, education, health care, etc) is one reason some of the USA’s best customers are unpopular. Unpopularity which is often, deliberately or not, re-directed towards the USA itself. And being unpopular in those parts of the world are a major driver of the current level of defense spending.

    By contrast stimulus spending on infrastructure can give both a short term bump and enable long term growth. Stimulus spending in other industries (like renewable energy) can be maintained in the long run by an expanded private sector market (especially if it helps improve technology and/or efficiency and bring down prices) and lead to sustainable exports.

    The problem is that the full returns from such investment take more than one election cycle, often half a dozen or more, to appear and are not as easily linked as being able to point to the fearsome military arsenal you’ve just built up.

  15. doublereed:

    I didn’t mean to imply the stimulus would be for defense spending. I was simply saying that we should be doing more government spending. I’m just against cuts of any kind at the moment.

    I don’t know the numbers, but I’m pretty certain that defense spending is *not* just direct military spending. It’s R&D and technological craziness too, which can actually end up in civilian hands (like GPS or the Internet for big examples). So I don’t think you can automatically claim that defense spending is inefficient or a bad investment.

    But the point is: why are we talking about cuts at all? This should be about JOBS.

  16. raven:

    “Every time we have a crisis in this country, President Obama’s solution is to raise taxes.”

    Every time things are going along just fine, the GOP cuts taxes and wrecks the economy.

  17. unbound:

    “And isn’t it amazing that the only government spending that ever spurs the economy is military spending?”

    That’s because the C-level executives of the defense contractors are complete assholes and will layoff people and/or cut salaries to preserve their own stock prices and bonuses. They know if they do this, it will result in the congresspeople being brought down and replaced with new congresspeople who will never dare cut off their lovely gravy train.

    And this is also why parts for our weapons are built in every state. Not to benefit the people, but to allow for punishment for any congressperson that gets uppity.

  18. yoav:

    doublereed #15 sayBut the point is: why are we talking about cuts at all? This should be about JOBS.
    Well it is about jobs, specifically about cutting jobs.

    “In the coming days, we will be introducing legislation – as we did last year – to avoid the first year of defense budget cuts by reducing the size of the federal workforce though attrition as recommended by the Simpson-Bowles Commission.

  19. d.c.wilson:

    There are 20 aircraft carriers in commission in various navies. The US Navy has 10 of them, all “supercarriers” (60,000 tons or greater displacement). No other country has a supercarrier. So the question arises, why does the US need half of the carriers in the world and all of the largest ones?

    Because we still have 33 presidents who haven’t had an aircraft carrier named after them yet.

  20. coragyps:

    jnorris at #13 wins the Internets for the next two days.

  21. vmanis1:

    No matter how wasteful military spending is, a sharp cut would have catastrophic consequences. Entire communities and industries would be damaged, and while the overall effect would not appear that horrific, serious local damage would be done.

    Probably the only way out is a steady slow decrease in military appropriations, gradually retargeting to non-military spending, but giving companies and the military time to adjust their operations accordingly.

    Even so, that isn’t always a recipe for success. Boeing got into the streetcar business back in the 1970s. I lived in Boston in the late 70s, and was frequently in San Francisco. Those were the 2 buyers of the Boeing Vertol rail car, and both ended up unhappy with them (the Mass Bay Transit Authority refused to take delivery of the last batch of them, and there were lawsuits galore). I recall that the articulation joint in the middle used to sound like hard-shelled worms being crunched, and there were quite a few derailments and assorted failures on a daily basis. Boeing got into this business because they were offered federal money to replace the money stream that dried up after Vietnam. So one wants to go slow and steady, building on the strengths of military suppliers, not simply throwing money at them.

  22. bybelknap:

    The “Job Creators” are sitting on massive profits, during times of the lowest taxes, and not creating new jobs. Announce new. huge, massive ginormous taxes on money that is just sitting around and see how fast that money that is just sitting around gets used to hire people, make stuff and generally not get taxed. Greedy fuckers are greedy. Tax them. Tax the hell out of them.

  23. Christoph Burschka:

    Strange. It’s almost as if the GOP is in the pocket of the arms industry or something.

  24. democommie:

    Miltary spending v infrastructure/healthcare spending?

    Why not LEAVE the money in the military’s budget and have them build 10 or 12 divisions of medical corps personnel and cvil engineering battalions.

    1.) They get to be the “Can Do!” military, ‘stead of the “Can’t Do Shit” federal bureaucrazy.

    C.) It’s much easier to get various city/town councils, county and state poobahs to “Go along to get along” if your medics are armed and your heavy equipment includes some Abrams tanks.

    4.) It’s worked the balls in Vietnam and SW Asia (with whom we HAVE always been at war).

Leave a comment

You must be