Sunday, September 19, 2010

Except for Defense

Every time I hear a member of congress talk about budget cuts they always end their sentences with “except for defense”.

In February 2009, Congressman Barney Frank, D-Mass., called for a reduction in the defense budget: "The math is compelling: if we do not make reductions approximating 25 percent of the military budget starting fairly soon, it will be impossible to continue to fund an adequate level of domestic activity even with a repeal of Bush's tax cuts for the very wealthy. I am working with a variety of thoughtful analysts to show how we can make very substantial cuts in the military budget without in any way diminishing the security we need. American well-being is far more endangered by a proposal for substantial reductions in Medicare, Social Security or other important domestic areas than it would be by canceling weapons systems that have no justification from any threat we are likely to face."

The invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan were funded through supplementary spending bills outside the Federal Budget. They are not included in the military budget. The Pentagon has access to black budget military spending for special programs which are not listed as Federal spending and are not included in published military spending figures. Starting in the fiscal year 2010 budget the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan became categorized as "Overseas Contingency Operations" and are included in the budget.

By the end of 2008 we spent approximately $900 billion in direct costs on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars. Interest on the additional debt and incremental costs of caring for the more than 33,000 wounded by the Veterans Administration are additional. Some experts estimate these indirect costs will eventually exceed the direct costs.

One argument I hear for maintaining these costs are the amount of people that are employed as a result. I believe this argument holds true for all public spending. We are losing our status as the world’s policemen and will eventually have to share these expenses with our allies. Why do we still have bases in Japan and Germany? The Japanese public has made it clear with their votes that they want our bases gone.

The military industrial complex Ike warned us about has turned into the world’s most powerful lobbying group.

It’s clear our elected representatives are either powerless or controlled by corporate interests. I’m not sure we’ll ever achieve reason with votes. Voters have incredibly short memories and are too easily controlled by sound byte opinions.

Does anyone out there have any ideas?


Anonymous said...

Energy independence is the key. If we could get off of foreign oil, using green methods or not, we wouldn’t care about Iraq or Afghanistan. If we could get off of oil, we wouldn’t be looking at a future showdown with China over Mideast oil and we wouldn’t need to maintain those bases in the Asia Pacific. If it weren’t for oil, we wouldn’t spend a minute worrying about the rantings of Hugo Chavez. There is suffering all over the world, and we rarely get our military involved unless oil is involved. Unfortunately, the oil companies own our politicians, preventing an Apollo like mission to move our country toward true energy independence.


Doggie said...

Here, here!