military spending

No More Tanks: Army Tells Congress to Stop Spending

Abrams tank

Whenever people call for cutting the military budget, the usual response goes something like  ”How can you keep the Army from getting the equipment it needs to fight wars?” Well, the problem with that response is highlighted today by this story from ABC:

Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build improved versions of the 70-ton Abrams.

But senior Army officials have said repeatedly, “No thanks.”

It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt.

Yet in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.

“If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way,” Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.

Why are the tank dollars still flowing? Politics.

Keeping the Abrams production line rolling protects businesses and good paying jobs in congressional districts where the tank’s many suppliers are located.

If there’s a home of the Abrams, it’s politically important Ohio. The nation’s only tank plant is in Lima. So it’s no coincidence that the champions for more tanks are Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, two of Capitol’s Hill most prominent deficit hawks, as well as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown. They said their support is rooted in protecting national security, not in pork-barrel politics.

Sequestration: An Inside Perspective

In two days, the sequestration axe will either drop, or it won’t.  Personally, I am about as close as you can get to the situation, and I have no idea how it will turn out.  While the “national security” argument against sequestration was gradually left behind, the arguments against the cuts have become increasingly economic in nature.  These arguments are problematic at best and disingenuous at worst.

A while back, I proposed a couple of ways to gradually cut more than sequestration does, therefore creating less pain in the current fiscal year; but as dieting often fails, cutting swiftly might be the only surefire method to actually cut spending.  Putting the cuts into perspective, as George Will did in his article this weekend, $85 billion from a $3.6 trillion budget, or 2.3%, is miniscule. The “draconian” cuts merely return us to 2006 levels.

I have been advocating deeper cuts for some time now, and as a defense contractor, am prepared to lose my job as a result (although I don’t expect to). I will try to be as objective as possible herein as I offer a couple of personal thoughts as we draw closer to the actuality of sequestration:

Sequestration Will Not Make the United States Less Safe

Written by Christopher Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute. Posted with permission from Cato @ Liberty.

Will sequestration undermine U.S. national security? Hardly. Today, the Cato Institute released a new infographic putting these minor cuts in perspective.

Military spending will remain at roughly 2006 levels—$603 billion, higher than peak U.S. spending during the Cold War. Meanwhile, we live in a safer world. The Soviet Union has been dead for more than two decades; no other nation, or combination of nations, has emerged since that can pose a comparable threat. We should have a defense budget that reflects this reality.

To be clear, sequestration was no one’s first choice. But the alternative—ever-increasing military spending detached from a legitimate debate over strategy—is worse. We should have had such a debate, one over the roles and missions of the U.S. military, long before this day of reckoning. And politicians could have pursued serious proposals to prudently reduce military spending. Instead, they chose the easy way out, avoiding difficult decisions that would have allowed for smarter cuts.

How The Sequester Torpedoed Conservatives’ Credibility

John Boehner

It was a mere tweet, but it summed up the entirety of the modern conservative movement:

It has everything: the source is the preeminent conservative “think tank” in DC, soon to be headed by Tea Party conservative and former senator Jim DeMint; lamenting about spending cuts; the laments are all about a government department that by all rights should not exist; and for good measure, it has a photograph. It shows precisely how the sequester had torpedoed conservative credibility.

We have heard relentlessly these past five years, ever since Obama was elected, that we need to cut spending. (Indeed, another Heritage article is a dorky little bit that specifically notes a “thrifty” House which demands that they have a balanced budget and avoid deficits.) Yet now that there is something which will cut—no, sorry, I can’t type that with a straight face; it will not cut spending, but merely slightly decrease the rate of spending—Heritage is up in arms about it.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Military Contractors) wrote the following in an op-ed:

Romney Shined — Will it Last?

I’ve shocked myself by feeling this way, but Mitt Romney has finally impressed me. As a Massachusetts native (and adopted Texan, thank God) I’ve been waiting a long time for my former Governor to fire me up. And I’ll admit – his debate performance Wednesday night actually got me excited. Romney looked presidential. Obama looked weak. Romney sounded authoritative, utilizing real facts, figures, and studies. Obama wavered and told irrelevant sob stories as a means to distract from reality. Anyone who watched could tell objectively, that Romney absolutely destroyed Obama. After all, the CNN poll wherein only 25% of viewers voted Obama the winner says it all.

While I was highly encouraged by Romney’s performance when it came to domestic and economic issues, I’m skeptical that this honeymoon will last. I say this due to the fact that there is an upcoming foreign policy debate – and the way Romney has framed many aspects of this issue (particularly during his Republican National Convention speech) has made me cringe. Romney has unfortunately, made a habit of engaging in what Congressman Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) has brilliantly termed Military Keynesianism.

Hypocrite in Chief

//], via Wikimedia Commons

Cuts to defense and military spending should reflect a principled commitment to reducing wasteful spending, crony capitalism, and the size and scope of the part of the federal government with all the bullets and bombs — it should not be a matter of political convenience.

When congressional leaders sparred over whether or not to raise the debt ceiling last year, the parties agreed that if Congress failed to come up with a deficit reduction plan, automatic triggers would kick in, and would sequester $1.2 trillion in spending across the federal budget (mandatory and discretionary; defense and non-defense). That agreement, which came to fruition almost exactly a year ago to the day, reflected a trade the president made with House Republicans: he gave up demanding revenue increases in exchange for an agreement to include defense spending in sequestration. Speaker of the House John Boehner reluctantly agreed, making sure no triggers would go into effect until January 2, 2013.

College activist group introduces “Giant Debt Pong”

War on Youth

Young Americans for Liberty, a college activist group with some 500 chapters and 162,000 members, has rolled out a new educational tool to teach young people about how policies pushed by the Obama administration and some Republicans are robbing them of opportunity.

What the group has done is taken beer pong, a drinking game ordinarily reserved for college parties and spring break, and put a brilliant new spin on it as part of its “War on Youth Activism Kit.”

Young Americans for Liberty’s version of the game, “Giant Debt Pong,” gives student activists a chance to teach their fellow classmates about their $150,289 share of the national debt. Students who participate in the same will need to hit six buckets labeled with “solution stickers” that they have to hit to pay off their share of the debt. These policies are part of what the group calls the “War on Youth.”

Giant Debt Pong

But it’s not as easy as it sounds. Included in the “War on Youth Activism Kit” is a Barack Obama Fathead that a Young Americans for Liberty activist will use to try to knock away your attempt to rid yourself of your share of the national debt.

Young Americans for Liberty is encouraging student activists to “[u]se this opportunity to make the connection between the disconnect the government has with our generation,” through the Obamacare, warfare state, cronyism, and other misguided policies that are tantamount to generational theft.

Tax Day: Time To Pony Up Your Dollars To Subsidize Other Countries

Usually, when people bleat about spending money on other countries, it’s about humanitarian aid. But we spend far more money on other nations than just humanitarian aid; we also spend billions and billions of dollars subsidizing other nations’ military defense.

So when you file your tax return today to your overlords at the IRS, just remember, you’re paying not only for our military, but for the military of NATO, of South Korea, of Japan, and many other countries, and letting them freeload off of you. Every time a liberal points to European socialism and says we should be more like that, just know a lot of that socialism comes because they don’t have to spend on their military—we do it for them.

Here’s the infographic and the blog post from the Cato Institute to prove it:



Barney Frank Gets European Welfare States Completely Wrong

Barney Frank

Former Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) made a profoundly absurd statement (you’re shocked, I’m sure) during an appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe on Friday. Frank, who did not seek re-election last fall, said that European countries can afford to spend substantial sums of money on welfare states because the United States military protects them:

Former Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., a proponent of single-payer health care, said this morning that European countries can only afford to spend money on the “social safety net” because they don’t have to spend much on defense due to the security provided by the United States military.

“One of things we do is stop subsidizing Western Europe,” Frank said on Morning Joe as he argued for lower military spending. “After their empires crumbled, Europe decided to leave the task of maintaining global security to America so they could use their resources to build their social safety net,” he added, drawing on Zbigneiw Brzezinski’s “Strategic Vision.”

House Republicans Seek to Restore Defense Cuts

With the sequester now in effect, House Republicans — who, despite their terrible messaging, have managed a win against the White House — are turning their attention toward a continuing resolution that would keep the spending cuts around, though it substitute some of them with cuts elsewhere in the budget:

Republicans controlling the House are moving to take the roughest edges off across-the-board spending cuts that are just starting to take effect.

Even as the military would bear a $43 billion cut over just seven months, the new GOP measure released Monday would give the Pentagon much-needed funding for readiness. It would also ease the pain felt by critical agencies like the FBI and the Border Patrol.

The effort is part of a huge spending measure released Monday that would fund day-to-day federal operations through September — and head off a potential government shutdown later this month.

The measure would leave in place automatic cuts of 5 percent to domestic agencies and 7.8 percent to the Pentagon ordered Friday by President Barack Obama after months of battling with Republicans over the budget. But the House Republicans’ legislation would award the Defense Department its detailed 2013 budget while other agencies would be frozen in place at 2012 levels.

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