Time for Responsible Cuts to Defense Spending

Anyone who is serious about dealing with the deficit but who takes all defense spending off the table, isn’t really serious about deficit reduction. Instead, they are simply interested in using the debt debate as a pretext to cut social programs they never liked to begin with, all the while watching out for their corporate friends, many of whom pay zero income tax.

The military-industrial-complex certainly provides needed security technology, equipment, research etc. but it also is fraught with waste, fraud, abuse and taxpayer-funded boondoggles that the public is often not even aware of. In other words, there are lots of areas where defense spending can be cut without sacrificing our national security. It’s not uncommon for politicians to support projects in their home state or projects undertaken by/represented by monied, powerful lobbyists for the defense industry. I came across this chart that details just a few programs that have run-away costs or that have been deemed totally ineffective/unrealistic:

[to view the larger image click on it and then click again and it will zoom in]

Robert Scheer on out of control military spending:

“The gift that keeps on giving” should have been the headline on the Pentagon’s decision to award Boeing Co. a $35 billion defense contract. Defense of the nation, of course, had nothing to do with it, since the end of the Cold War also ended the need for midair refueling of the nuclear-armed bombers intended to retaliate after a Soviet first strike, a scenario brought to the public eye in the 1964 movie “Dr. Strangelove.”

At a time when drones seem to be bypassing the need for manned military bombers of any kind, and when schoolteachers and firefighters are being terminated across the country, the awarding of this long-delayed and questionable military-industrial-complex scam is simply perverse.

There has always been vast bipartisan support for spending upward of a trillion dollars a year on the various items that claim to enhance our national security. For Republicans, their attacks on big federal spending rarely include the more than half of the federal discretionary spending gobbled up by military programs. For Democrats, defense pork has always been defended as a jobs program, and that was the theme of what the Seattle Times headlined as a “victory rally” in the historical home of Boeing operations, where the new plane is expected to create about 11,000 jobs.


…Bloomberg News’ report on the rise in Boeing stock after the Pentagon awarded the contract made the connection between defense and profit quite clear:

“Building the tanker means Boeing can continue to make the wide-body 767 jet on which the plane is based. The backlog on the 767 has dwindled to 50 orders, as customers await the 787 Dreamliner, the composite-plastic plane now about three years behind schedule. … The news is an antidote to Boeing’s struggle in recent months with the Dreamliner and the 747-jumbo jet. The passenger version of the 747-8 is a year late, and Boeing is running two years behind schedule on the freighter model.”

So, faced with major problems in developing the next generation of civilian aircraft, Boeing has been blessed with a massive Defense Department contract that will allow it to use an old, about-to-be-discarded assembly line to refurbish the 767 at enormous cost to the taxpayer so that it is fit to haul fuel and serve as a gas station in the sky for planes that no longer have a pressing strategic mission requiring such refueling.

This is the same plane that Republican Sen. John McCain killed some five years ago when his staff sparked an investigation that sent to federal prison Boeing’s chief executive officer and a former Pentagon official who had been given a $250,000 vice president’s job at Boeing; the company also hired her daughter and son-in-law. Boeing’s CEO resigned, and Boeing’s contract to build the plane was cancelled. The Pentagon had not asked for the refueling tanker, but top Air Force officials in collusion with Boeing lobbyists did an end run to Congress that resulted in passage of an appropriation to lease the planes.

And then there is this, talking about the controversy over the F135 Joint Strike Fighter that has caused so much controversy in Congress.

The Center for American Progress (CAP) issued a report highlighting exactly where Congress can make cuts in defense/Pentagon spending in order to save upwards of $400 billion through 2015. It’s worth taking a look. While there is certainly room for disagreement about whether all or some of the targeted programs should be cut, at least CAP is giving specifics and they’ve done the math. Despite the mainstream media’s obvious glee at being able to cover all the spats and political gamesmanship in the current debt debate, there is virtually no substantive discussion of defense cuts. The MSM hardly ever brings it up and when they do, it’s usually only a passing comment or two.

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About Stacy

Attorney, Publisher, Foreign Policy wonk

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One Comment on “Time for Responsible Cuts to Defense Spending”

  1. thainjacobs Says:

    Great post. It’s frustrating we argue every dime for unemployment or health care but when it comes to anything with the word defense in it, money is no object!

    Thanks for the heads up about the chart image. You are right if you click twice it gets much bigger and you can read it.

    Maybe the MSM doesn’t cover this issue because they are part of the MIC? Isn’t MSNBC owned by General Electric, a HUGE defense contractor?

    It’s We the People’s fault too though. People get caught up in the stupidity of this debt debate- all talking points no substance. None of us are demanding we talk about defense cuts b/c people seem to believe the propaganda that if we cut defense we’ll suddenly be unsafe.

    I’ll tell ‘ya what- China is laughing all the way to the bank. They are HUGE country with a large military but their military spending is nowhere near as much as ours. They are probably getting a big kick out of watching us fight all these wars, spend tons of money that we borrow from THEM, to build fighter plane engines, tanks, missile defense systems that don’t work and are nothing but corporate welfare. It may not be terrorism that is the real security threat but our inability to see the writing on the wall- you can’t fight wars on four fronts, spend like a drunken sailor and sell democracy to the highest bidder and remain a superpower.


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