Was last night’s vote on defense appropriations a sign of renewed fiscal conservatism in the GOP?

posted at 4:41 pm on July 20, 2012 by Dustin Siggins

Via the Cato blog:

Last night, the House approved a Pentagon budget bill of nearly $606 billion, $1.1 billion below the level recommended by the GOP leadership. Congratulations are in order for freshman Republican Mick Mulvaney (SC-5), and retiring Democrat Barney Frank (MA-4), for co-sponsoring the amendment that effectively froze spending at last year’s level.

According to Politico‘s David Rogers, “the freeze marks a modest but still important turning point in the budget wars with 89 Republicans joining 158 Democrats on the key 247-167 vote.”

From a purely budgetary standpoint, this is modestly good news. Yes, we need significant cuts in the defense budget (as well as everywhere else), especially with regards to oversight of inefficient spending and ridiculous mandates from Congress on how contracts have to be fulfilled, so freezing the defense budget isn’t good enough, but it is a positive sign that the GOP is once again becoming a fiscally conservative party. It’s also a good way to have a big tent, since many libertarians and libertarian-leaning Republicans are uncertain as to whether or not they should support the GOP.

However, some will fight defense cuts tooth and nail. Over the last few months concerns have arisen among some Republicans that sequestration cuts in defense could harm the economy. Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) have led this charge, and just this week Rob Bluey posted on Hot Air about a study claiming sequestration could have a devastating impact on the unemployment rate:

The unemployment rate will climb above 9 percent, pushing the economy toward recession and reducing projected growth in 2013 by two-thirds. An already weak economy will be undercut as the paychecks of thousands of workers across the economy will be affected from teachers, nurses, construction workers to key federal employees such as border patrol and FBI agents, food inspectors and others.

Personally, I think such economic concerns related to defense cuts are misplaced, for the same reasons outlined at the 31:30 mark of this video by Representative Raul Labrador (R-ID) yesterday. Anthony Randazzo, Director of Economic Research for the Reason Foundation, has a similar opinion to Labrador:

It’s disingenuous for Republicans to defend their ideologically-favored projects and then say to Democrats that their ideologically-favored projects should be cut. You have Democrats and Republicans with different frameworks on how they view the world. Defense and justice, fairness, etc. are viewed differently. You can’t tell Republicans they can’t stand against defense spending cuts, and the same is true for Democrats with regards to social programs. But it’s disingenuous for Republicans to tell Democrats cutting their programs won’t hurt the economy while they oppose cuts to the Defense Department.

The fact is defense spending is government spending, and by its very nature government spending is inefficient. While I don’t think sequestration is the way to go (it doesn’t cut enough overall, and what it does cut isn’t specifically outlined, meaning worthwhile programs could be hit), we do need to cut spending by hundreds of billions every year in order to prevent a fiscal collapse. Freezing the defense budget is a step in the right direction.


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The fact is defense spending is government spending, and by its very nature government spending is inefficient. While I don’t think sequestration is the way to go (it doesn’t cut enough overall, and what it does cut isn’t specifically outlined, meaning worthwhile programs could be hit), we do need to cut spending by hundreds of billions every year in order to prevent a fiscal collapse. Freezing the defense budget is a step in the right direction.

I have felt this way myself. There can be no sacred cows. The Pentagon needs to figure out what it really needs most and budget accordingly. Just as all other departments must do. Of course, we could really do without many departments. Education and Energy should be the first to go.

Bitter Clinger on July 20, 2012 at 4:49 PM

While praising the GOP for uniformly hold to fiscal Conservative practices, I will be more impressed if they can remain consistent after the Election year cycle as well.

BlaxPac on July 20, 2012 at 4:50 PM

Awesome.

mythicknight on July 20, 2012 at 4:50 PM

Why spending more on defense than the next 7 countries combined isn’t enough in 3..2..1…

EddieC on July 20, 2012 at 4:50 PM

16T in the hole. We need cuts everywhere.

p0s3r on July 20, 2012 at 4:52 PM

This was in the article about the Idaho donor to Romney, but I didn’t see it until late, so I wanted to add this.

Does anyone still doubt that Governor Romney’s complete tax returns for his entire life have already been seen by Axleshaft and Company?

slickwillie2001 on July 20, 2012 at 2:12 PM

No, but examining Romney’s returns (illegally) is one thing, being able to use specific parts of them in attack ads is another.

The Obama thugs can’t afford to be too obvious in tipping off the public to their lawlessness.

Not yet, anyway.

AZCoyote on July 20, 2012 at 3:25 PM

I’ve been saying this for days now. 0b0z0 had sealed divorce records released when he was running for senate that tanked his opponent. He is a CHICAGO TERRORIST and I have believed forever that they have Romney’s tax returns, but can’t tip their hands until Romney releases them DON’T DO IT GOV ROMNEY! This is a criminal organization in the House (as they call it, they can’t say white).
God help us!

Bambi on July 20, 2012 at 4:52 PM

fiscal cliff, sequestration = Y2K

t8stlikchkn on July 20, 2012 at 4:52 PM

Simple question – when has the GOP going “first” ever resulted in the Democrats responding in kind? Asked a different way, why can’t the Dems ever cut one of their precious social engineering programs (you know, the ones that are not the business of the government in the first place) rather than the GOP cutting defense (you know, an actually legitimate expenditure by government)?

Rufus on July 20, 2012 at 4:52 PM

the thing about defense spending is quite a bit of it goes into the private sector for goods and services that have actual value. Pretty much everything else in government is just redistribution with the government taking 25% as it passes through and getting no real value. Oh and it is specifically mentioned in The Constitution.

jukin3 on July 20, 2012 at 4:54 PM

Was last night’s vote on defense appropriations a sign of renewed fiscal conservatism in the GOP?

No, but as usual they’ll pretend like they are for a few months around election time.

FloatingRock on July 20, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Why spending more on defense than the next 7 countries combined isn’t enough in 3..2..1…

EddieC on July 20, 2012 at 4:50 PM

Amen, but try the rest of the world combined. Our defense budget is nearly $1 trillion when you factor in those parts of the DOE and State Department budgets that only exist to support the military.

ReformedDeceptiCon on July 20, 2012 at 4:55 PM

The fact is defense spending is one of the few government spending authorized explicitly in the Constitution,

In my copy, at least. I must have an old version, cuz it doesn’t say anything about investing the taxpayers money.

BobMbx on July 20, 2012 at 4:55 PM

Why spending more on defense than the next 7 countries combined isn’t enough in 3..2..1…

EddieC on July 20, 2012 at 4:50 PM

Of the ~200 sovereign states, only about 10 are stable enough to put themselves in position to defend (or kick the crap out of) the remainder?

Lets suppose there’s a gigantic natural catastrophe here in the US. How soon do you expect Burkina Faso to show up with much needed aid in our hour of need?

BobMbx on July 20, 2012 at 5:00 PM

In what way is maintaining spending levels a sign of fiscal conservatism or even a cut????

This is what has everyone fooled about Paul Ryan’s plan.

Dante on July 20, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Defense budget could be cut in half; while increasing military standing and readiness. Cut out the chunks of overpriced technology (imagine 10 really good planes instead of 1 great plane, or missiles, or whatever else), and then logistics. Afghan logistics are enormous, and with the self-grandizing ‘surge’ from Obama in order to “lay claim” to whatever “success” will be there. Then there are the numerous forward stations, especially in coutnries who outsource (with no payments) their defense to us. To hell with Europe, remove all military there; cut back on the global transit of the Navy; get rid of the rediculous green fleet; slowly withdrawal from other “positions” and get rid of all territory that are not useful directly.

If war happens, the peoples of the world will either defend themselves or capitulate. Tough love baby. We could increase our personel with the above reductions; I personally believe we should never be below 1% of total population, 2% is my target though. Lord knows this society needs discipline and to be peeled away from convenience.

John Kettlewell on July 20, 2012 at 5:03 PM

So what you’re telling me is Republicans joined with Democrats to cut spending on one of the few constitutional responsibilities of the federal government, while we continue to run off a fiscal cliff on our biggest fiscal issues.

We cut spending on national defense while expanding food stamps, establishing new entitlement programs, and “investing” in politically-connected companies destined to fail.

But I’m supposed to be thrilled because Republicans helped Democrats cut spending on a constitutional responsibility, while Democrats will do everything possible to block cuts or even reform to the programs actually threatening our fiscal future.

Yay.

Note to Republicans: Democrats will help you cut as much defense spending as you want. Hell, reduce it to five guys and a sling shot. And at the end of the day the programs that actually threaten our fiscal future will remain untouched.

amerpundit on July 20, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Of the ~200 sovereign states, only about 10 are stable enough to put themselves in position to defend (or kick the crap out of) the remainder?

Lets suppose there’s a gigantic natural catastrophe here in the US. How soon do you expect Burkina Faso to show up with much needed aid in our hour of need?

BobMbx on July 20, 2012 at 5:00 PM

Nobody else will ever be able to come to our rescue. We rescue everyone else. But cuts have to be ‘across-the-board’. Sacred cows cannot exist in our budget.

Bitter Clinger on July 20, 2012 at 5:06 PM

Note to Republicans: Democrats will help you cut as much defense spending as you want. Hell, reduce it to five guys and a sling shot. And at the end of the day the programs that actually threaten our fiscal future will remain untouched.

Bingo!

melle1228 on July 20, 2012 at 5:08 PM

Military spending is important to most nations, with each country spending to its own need and ability. Canada spends 6.3 percent of its total yearly budget on military spending. The United States spends 19.3 percent of its budget on military expenses. Mexico uses 3.3 percent of its budget for military spending.

Nicaragua spends 3.2 percent of its yearly budget on military expenses. In Columbia, military spending is 11.9 percent of its annual budget. Argentina military spending is 5.9 percent of its yearly budget.

In Scandinavia and Europe, military spending is relatively low. Norway spends 4.8 percent of its budget on military spending, while its neighbor Sweden spends 4.3 percent of its budget on the military. In the U.K., military spending is 6.3 percent of the yearly expenditure. In Germany, military spending is 3.3 percent. In France, military spending is 5.4 percent of France’s yearly budget. Italy uses 4.5 percent of its annual budget for military spending. The annual military spending of Spain is 4.2 percent.

In the Middle East, the level of military spending is generally higher than in Europe. In the United Arab Emirates, military spending makes up 45.7 percent of the country’s annual budget. In Iran, military spending is 21.7 percent of its allocated budget. The military expenditure of Pakistan is 23.1 percent of all its yearly expenditures.
Morocco spends 13.6 percent of its annual budget on military expenditures. The military of South Africa is 4.8 percent of its budget. In India, military spending is 18.6 percent of its total spending. Thailand spends 7 percent of its money on its military. Indonesia sends 6.5 percent of its budget in the military.

Australia spends 7.1 percent of its budget on its military. New Zealand military spending is 3.1 percent of the New Zealand yearly budget. In China, 18.2 percent of the annual budget is spent on military expenses. South Korea spends 12 percent of its total yearly expenditures on the military. In Japan, the military spending percentage is 6.4 percent of the country’s annual budget. Russia spends 18.7 percent of its annual budget on the military.

http://visualeconomics.creditloan.com/how-countries-spend-their-money/

Funny how all our enemies spend either as much or more of their budget on the military..

melle1228 on July 20, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Sacred cows cannot exist in our budget.

Bitter Clinger on July 20, 2012 at 5:06 PM

And yet they do. But Republicans, instead of holding the line on national defense until Democrats agree to let go of their own sacred cows, moved to slaughter our own priorities while the actually big problems remain untouched.

President Obama removed work requirements for welfare. The administration is doing everything in its power to expand food stamp reliance. ObamaCare is going into effect. And Republicans respond by…cutting defense spending.

Rather than telling Democrats we’ll touch defense spending after they agree to allow reforms to entitlements, we surrender spending on actual constitutional responsibilities while they don’t move an inch on programs we can’t afford in present state.

amerpundit on July 20, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Would someone please inform the geniuses at TownHall that their promotional pop-over here at HotAir is impossible to dismiss on an iPad, making the whole site unusable?

Reading the site should never be an annoying chore, but more and more it’s exactly that.

greggriffith on July 20, 2012 at 5:12 PM

Freezing the defense budget is a step in the right direction.

I disagree for several reasons though your knee-jerk hatred of defense spending is common.

First, the first victims of freezing defense spending are those who served this nation. Those recieving pensions from the military are being hit up for spending shortfalls.

Secondly, defense appropriations of platforms are fluid. Some years are more expensive than others depending on the phase of the project. It is why the DoD budget is on a different schedule.

Finally, defense spending is clearly a federal expense. Not so much in filling budget shortfalls in education by the states. Pare down those expenditures before you attack the defense budget.

Happy Nomad on July 20, 2012 at 5:12 PM

In what way is maintaining spending levels a sign of fiscal conservatism or even a cut????

This is what has everyone fooled about Paul Ryan’s plan.

Dante on July 20, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Because Dante, before you go backwards, you have to first stop.

Just like trying to throw a car in reverse while you’re speeding. Yeah, you’ll kill the forward momentum, but you’ll rip the heck out of the transmission, engine and *yourself* as it self-destructs.

Right now, we’d be way better off if the Feds were back at the 2006-08 Budget…for one thing we’d have one instead of these stopgap measures.

Another thing, we were spending less then than now. Sure still over the top, but again gotta start somewhere.

BlaxPac on July 20, 2012 at 5:13 PM

Rather than telling Democrats we’ll touch defense spending after they agree to allow reforms to entitlements, we surrender spending on actual constitutional responsibilities while they don’t move an inch on programs we can’t afford in present state.

amerpundit on July 20, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Republicans think if they give an inch they will see compromise. It never happens though..

melle1228 on July 20, 2012 at 5:13 PM

20% of the DoD budget has nothing to do with defense. Just a place to hide pet projects. The black budget is much worse.

The next cuts in defense are going to be in retirement and health care.

crash72 on July 20, 2012 at 5:15 PM

Happy Nomad,

Regarding your points:

1. I don’t hate defense spending. I simply think there is too much of it.

2. Those receiving pensions should be the last victims. While DoD health care is going to be a major problem in a couple of decades (I read somewhere a while back that it will eventually take up the entirety of the DoD budget), we should hit everything else first.

3. Some years are different than others. Agreed.

4. We should be paring down spending everywhere, as I noted in the post. Defense shouldn’t be hit independent of other reforms.

Dustin Siggins on July 20, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Saving $1.1 Billion in the land of -$16 Trillion is the very definition of “Damning with faint praise”.

Another way of looking at $1.1 Billion – It’s an Obama green company payback to exactly two campaign supporters and contributors.

RJL on July 20, 2012 at 5:18 PM

Please note: It’s $606 Billion Pentagon budget while we’re spending $3,700 Billion total a year. Can we please also address the rest of the spending. . .

I feel there ARE billions in the bureaucracy of the Pentagon and waste that can be addressed. But I also know math well enough that even if the Pentagon was 100% waste, eliminating it would still leave us $900 Billion a year in deficits.

Lets clean up the duplication and waste in the Pentagon/military, give some of the savings back to the troops in better pay/benefits and then look at what is REALLY driving our deficit (and no, it’s not the 82.9 Billion we’re not collecting from people making more than 250K . . .)

PastorJon on July 20, 2012 at 5:19 PM

The next cuts in defense are going to be in retirement and health care.

crash72 on July 20, 2012 at 5:15 PM

It is already happening with the existing cuts. Bravo Americans..

Don’t touch my medicare, but screw the Veterans who frickin earned their benefits.

melle1228 on July 20, 2012 at 5:20 PM

Look to our own history and do not repeat mistakes of the past. Do no harm.

During a similar time period of the great depression our democratic party forefathers pushed through gutting the military.

When my father enlisted in January 1941, with full-scale war already waging in Europe, and only 11 months before Pearl Harbor, his basic training consisted of drilling with BROOMSTICKS because there were no guns for the recruits to use.

If you think it can’t happen again . . .

Greyledge Gal on July 20, 2012 at 5:21 PM

Forget overpriced hammers and toilet seats, according to The Heritage Foundation, some genius at the Pentagon spent $998,798 shipping two 19-cent washers from South Carolina to Texas and $293,451 sending an 89-cent washer from South Carolina to Florida.

Pluleeeze don’t tell me that money cannot be saved at the Pentagon and on defense spending.

http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2009/10/50-examples-of-government-waste

jb34461 on July 20, 2012 at 5:23 PM

jb34461 on July 20, 2012 at 5:23 PM

Yet in your example there are 49 other examples of government waste that has NOTHING to do with the DOD and yet none of those other programs are getting cut. You want to see waste- go look at the medicaid-medicare system. As soon as those programs start getting gutted as well then most of us who actually get “gutted” by the Pentagon whe the cuts happen won’t be as pissed.

melle1228 on July 20, 2012 at 5:27 PM

Wait! A 1/6th of one percent reduction is cause for celebrating a “congressional spring” of Republican fiscal conservatism? Pathetic.

philw1776 on July 20, 2012 at 5:27 PM

I posted this on another thread, unfortunately just before it scrolled out of the headlines but I am really serious about this:

Everyone in the country with an 8th grade or better education really, honestly, truly must see this film series created by Milton Friedman and aired on NPR back in 1980 (and parts updated in 1990). Watch the 10 part series (about an HOUR each) and the updates. This is an education in economics by one of the world’s premier economics professors at the University of Chicago. Watching that series will give you more of an education in economics than many get in college. AND IT IS FREE.

Milton Friedman produced that series as his gift to the world. Please take advantage of that gift from one of history’s greatest economists.

The series is also an adjunct to his book of the same name “Free to Choose” which is still available in both print and kindle version from Amazon:

http://miltonfriedman.blogspot.com/

PLEASE! And if you have highschool aged kids, it is a GREAT educational program for them to watch (watch it WITH them and discuss it!) for over the summer.

PLEASE. I am dead serious.

crosspatch on July 20, 2012 at 5:28 PM

…just like kids…they’re pretending!

KOOLAID2 on July 20, 2012 at 5:36 PM

Because Dante, before you go backwards, you have to first stop.

Just like trying to throw a car in reverse while you’re speeding.

BlaxPac on July 20, 2012 at 5:13 PM

That’s ridiculous. You don’t need to first freeze spending levels in order to reduce them. It’s legislation. One isn’t required to be passed in order for another bill to be passed.

Dante on July 20, 2012 at 5:39 PM

melle1228 on July 20, 2012 at 5:27 PM

The point was made regarding “sacred cows”. Go ahead, claim there is no waste in Defense and/or no way to reduce spending in your sacred cow program. Now tell them their scared cow should be cut. It’s going to take some serious adults to deal with this but there is no program, department or part of the government that cannot be cut reasonably.

jb34461 on July 20, 2012 at 5:39 PM

Maybe a lightbulb moment will occur in the Defense Dept. and they will decide they can’t afford to fuel our ships with $26/gallon bio fuel. There looks like there might be places to cut in Defense if such nonsense as this is happening.

KenInIL on July 20, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Wait! A 1/6th of one percent reduction is cause for celebrating a “congressional spring” of Republican fiscal conservatism? Pathetic.

philw1776 on July 20, 2012 at 5:27 PM

This is what I mean by Ryan’s plan fooling people. There was no reduction in spending. They didn’t cut spending levels.

Dante on July 20, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Funny how all our enemies spend either as much or more of their budget on the military..

melle1228 on July 20, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Funny how you think those countries are our enemies.

Dante on July 20, 2012 at 5:41 PM

Funny how all our enemies spend either as much or more of their budget on the military..

melle1228 on July 20, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Funny how you think those countries are our enemies.

Dante on July 20, 2012 at 5:41 PM

Don’t know where he could have gotten that idea?

Chants in Iran: Death to America, the infidel

sharrukin on July 20, 2012 at 5:48 PM

1) Defense spending isn’t the problem. Our whole budget problem is entitlement spending, as any look at the numbers can tell you.
2) Inefficiency is not a valid reason for demanding cuts in defense spending, simply because there will always be inefficiency. That is, you will never reach a point where you can say, now we have efficiency, and can spend again. You’re demanding an impossible standard, then using the fact that you can’t reach that standard to excuse cutting across the board. In short, cutting inefficiently
3) When we waste time talking about defense spending, we provide a cover for the liberals to refuse to address the real problem, entitlement spending, and pretend that they care about the budget. If they actually cared, they wouldn’t be talking about defense spending. They would be trying to deal with the real problem.
4) In other words, the problem is not our level of spending, but what we think is a valid reason to spend money for the government. Spending for defense is a valid reason to spend money. Extensive welfare is not.
5) In spite of the Paulnuts blathering, we spend money on the military because it makes us safer. And frankly, because we can’t count on anyone else in the world to spend the money on our behalf. We fight overseas, so that we don’t have to fight our enemies here.
6) Also in spite of the nonsense demands to cut defense spending blindly, we are cutting our Air Force in real ways. The Air Force will be smaller and less well-equipped, and less able to control a hostile situation
7) Oh, and the world is not becoming a safer place. We have more low-level powers that have capacity to attack us than ever before. There is exactly one thing that keeps them from trying it: the certainty that they would lose very, very, very badly.

tom on July 20, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Republicans voted to keep $73 million dollars in defense spending for the sponsoring of sports teams and NASCAR.

Many pols (mostly democrats but not all) want military retirees to have to increase their out of pocket expense for Tricare fees while allowing the above stupidity.

catmman on July 20, 2012 at 5:58 PM

Maybe a lightbulb moment will occur in the Defense Dept. and they will decide they can’t afford to fuel our ships with $26/gallon bio fuel. There looks like there might be places to cut in Defense if such nonsense as this is happening.

KenInIL on July 20, 2012 at 5:40 PM

Farm subsidy on the backs of wounded vets.

crash72 on July 20, 2012 at 5:59 PM

The fact is defense spending is government spending, and by its very nature government spending is inefficient.

That said, defense is an act explicitly called out in the Constitution as required of the Government.

unclesmrgol on July 20, 2012 at 6:03 PM

Republicans voted to keep $73 million dollars in defense spending for the sponsoring of sports teams and NASCAR.

Many pols (mostly democrats but not all) want military retirees to have to increase their out of pocket expense for Tricare fees while allowing the above stupidity.

catmman on July 20, 2012 at 5:58 PM

NASCAR has been the most successful recruiting tool in our history. We have a nine month waiting list. Most is due to the economy but entry surveys show NASCAR (and NBA) advertising to be the hook. Ironically, a large percentage of fly over country enlist in the Navy.

I agree with your Tricare sentiment.

crash72 on July 20, 2012 at 6:04 PM

1) Defense spending isn’t the problem. Our whole budget problem is entitlement spending, as any look at the numbers can tell you.

The problem you have is right now between military, discretionary and interest payments on the debt you get to over 100% of revenue. Which means in the short run you have 2 choices, cut the first 2 significantly, or default on the interest payments and reneg on our obligations to medicate, medicaid, and SS recipients.

Or you can take choice 3 which seems to be our current plan, print up a bunch of money and devalue the currency.

ReformedDeceptiCon on July 20, 2012 at 6:04 PM

20% of the DoD budget has nothing to do with defense. Just a place to hide pet projects. The black budget is much worse.

The next cuts in defense are going to be in retirement and health care.

crash72 on July 20, 2012 at 5:15 PM

They can’t , it would be a breach of contract to cut the VA pensions for the people who served and retired and are entitled to benefits…for the ones who are currently in the mil, sure, they can start with changes there, but they will have a big retention problem on their hands, if this happens, who on earth would want to serve with no benefits guaranteed? As for the health care, retired service members pay currenty for tricare, at a lower rate, but still, it is expected that the costs will go up… but then a lot of them opt already for other health plans offered by their new employers/defence contractors (am talking about the retired mil who are not of medicare age), so that won’t be too devastating, probably tricare will end up being just a health among others to choose from for retired mil…if the employers’ ones are better amd less expensive, they will naturally leave ticare..

jimver on July 20, 2012 at 6:07 PM

crash72 on July 20, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Sorry, Hos, that dog don’t hunt.

The Army is dropping its sponsorship of a NASCAR driver since it hasn’t shown to be a benefit to recruiting at all, though they are still sponsoring drag racers (figure that one out).

The expenditure of defense dollars should be for ‘beans and bullets’. Anything else is superfluous nonsense.

catmman on July 20, 2012 at 6:08 PM

Positive sign? Was this really written by a conservative? Cutting defense is the easy part. Why? Because the only thing that ever gets cut is defense. Bill Clinton’s “miraculous” deficit cutting came on the heels of gutting national defense for a “peace dividend” (chuckle), and raising taxes. Not a dime of spending was cut.

Now that we have thrown national security onto the bonfire, what assurances do we have that the other side will keep its word? Anyone old enough to remember TEFRA ’86? How about Bush 41′s unilateral sacrifice of his presidency for the budget cuts that never happened?

I will regard this as a “positive” sign only when such commitments are matched (percentage wise) on the non-defense spending side of the aisle, with real enforcement mechanisms in place. Until then, we have accomplished as much as Charlie Brown does when playing football with Lucy.

HobbesDFW on July 20, 2012 at 6:10 PM

jimver on July 20, 2012 at 6:07 PM

Its already happened, my friend. Contracts be damned…

The services have cut retirement pensions steadily for over 40 years. When my dad retired, he got 75% of his base pay for a pension. By the time my older brother retired, 19 years later, that number had been reduced to the more commonly known 50%. By the time I had been in 10 years, that number had been reduced to 40%, though that has changed a few times in the intervening decade. Now there are a few options. When I entered service in 1987, full military health care was guaranteed if you served 20 or more years. Now you have to pay for it.

Service ‘contracts’ are subject to change at the discretion of the service, not the other way around and they are ‘contracts’ in the loosest sense of the word…

catmman on July 20, 2012 at 6:15 PM

Where to begin? You can not compare US military spending to other nations because the situations are nowhere near the same. Our nuclear shield protects them, so they are spared the expense. Our military has wasted money for no other reason than political correctness. The green fuel has already been mentioned, and the Navy has spent millions to convert their ships to accommodate women. The Air Force has had to do likewise.
We spend more on sophisticated equipment to spare the troops. If you want a cheaper Army, bring back the draft. Then you would only need to pay them $200/ month and three hots and a cot. The old wood barracks are sufficient for shelter, Prop planes are more fuel efficient, and the M-1, Jeep, and Sherman tank could easily replace the M-4, Humvee, and Abrams at much lower cost//
The Democrats gutted the defense after WW2, and it cost us in Korea. They did it again under Carter, and Reagan had to rebuild it. Clinton slashed it again, and Bush was required to repair the damage. We could not replicate Desert Storm even if we committed all of our forces because of the reduction. We have people who have spent more time in theater than who would have spent the entire duration of WW2.
Defense is not a budget item; it is critical for our nation’s survival. Cut it only to a level which deters aggression and no further. Otherwise, the remainder of the budget doesn’t matter.

FirelandsO3 on July 20, 2012 at 6:21 PM

The only spending cuts almost all Democrats and “some” Republicans (enough to pass legislation) can ever agree to make are defense cuts.

The result is the only spending that is ever cut is defense. This has been happening for about 90 years, at least.

And “some” Republicans consider this some sort of victory and a good thing.

farsighted on July 20, 2012 at 6:24 PM

So what you’re telling me is Republicans joined with Democrats to cut spending on one of the few constitutional responsibilities of the federal government, while we continue to run off a fiscal cliff on our biggest fiscal issues.

We cut spending on national defense while expanding food stamps, establishing new entitlement programs, and “investing” in politically-connected companies destined to fail.

But I’m supposed to be thrilled because Republicans helped Democrats cut spending on a constitutional responsibility, while Democrats will do everything possible to block cuts or even reform to the programs actually threatening our fiscal future.

Yay.

Note to Republicans: Democrats will help you cut as much defense spending as you want. Hell, reduce it to five guys and a sling shot. And at the end of the day the programs that actually threaten our fiscal future will remain untouched.

amerpundit on July 20, 2012 at 5:05 PM

Well said.

Isn’t bipartisanship great?

Screw bipartisanship. The Dems do. They did not give a crap about bipartisanship when they rammed through Obamcare. And odds are they will get away with it.

farsighted on July 20, 2012 at 6:32 PM

The military is the one thing the federal government should be spending money on. Is giving the socialists a victory and weakening defense really worth making a useless point?

Count to 10 on July 20, 2012 at 6:32 PM

This Dustin Siggens guy is really rather different than Ed or Allah. Ron Paul supporter?

Count to 10 on July 20, 2012 at 6:38 PM

We used to have a lot more competition among defense contractors. Now we don’t. We have a handful of large integration contractors who do their own sub-contracting to deliver weapon systems. These systems are hugely expensive to maintain and modernize and development sometimes takes years. But who else are you going to get to do the work? Between the Congress wanting jobs in their districts and the contract lawyers, many DoD bureucrats charged with protecting the taxpayer’s interests ($$$) don’t have a lot of “hand”. The people best equiped to do the work are the same integrating contractor who have done the work for the last 20 years of the sytem’s lifecycle.

On the positive side, these mega defense companies build leading edge technical gizmos that work. And they do hire large numbers of people with good benefits. An additional for those who want drastic cuts to defense… where do we want that talent to find their next jobs?

rhombus on July 20, 2012 at 6:57 PM

Republican support for a strong defense is rooted in the Constitutional requirement to provide for the national defense. There is no such Constitutional requirement to provide for a cradle to grave nanny/welfare state. Go ahead and freeze defense but cut everything else by 66%.

devan95 on July 20, 2012 at 7:09 PM

Considering how much more we waste on welfare and entitlements compared to defense spending, I’m not particularly happy to see the Pentagon needing to tighten its belt. That emotional reaction aside, I guess I do have to agree with those saying there can be no “sacred cows” in budget cuts…

Mr. Prodigy on July 20, 2012 at 7:20 PM

Even if all we were trying to do is contain Iran and China and keep terrorists from re-establishing a base of operations in Afghanistan (and it is not), the defense budget is already too small. Major weapons systems are nearing the end of their safe service life, the old production lines have been shut down, and we need replacement units asap. Also, since we seem to need to fight all of our wars with as few casualties as possible (and who would argue with that?), these replacement units need to be cutting-edge in terms of their technical superiority.

One of the reasons that new systems seem so expensive, by the way, is that recently we have never purchased as many units as initially planned, thus driving up the unit cost by providing fewer of them to amortize the research and development costs across.

Also, our defense expenditures are higher because we pay our people better. Does anyone think we should cut military pay to that of the PLA or the Pasdaran? I hope not.

We need to contain both Iran and China, both for humanitarian reasons and for regional stability as well. If Iran comes to dominate the Middle East, for example, the price of oil, which is traded on an interconnected series of international markets, would skyrocket. $20 per gallon gas, anyone?

Finally, the argument that defense must be cut to maintain fiscal discipline was exactly the argument advanced by Neville Chamberlain before World War II. He preferred to “defend the pound” rather than defend England. Does anyone really think that was such a good idea?

HTL on July 20, 2012 at 8:06 PM

It’s disingenuous for Republicans to defend their ideologically-favored projects and then say to Democrats that their ideologically-favored projects should be cut.

Actually it’s not, unless you’re one of those morons(and apparently Dusty is one of them) who believes all spending is equal, and that spending on piss Jesus is the equivalent of spending on national security.

Sacred cows cannot exist in our budget.

Bitter Clinger

And with Republicans like you regurgitating lame, liberal talking points like this, who needs Democrats?

xblade on July 20, 2012 at 8:14 PM

It’s disingenuous for Republicans to defend their ideologically-favored projects and then say to Democrats that their ideologically-favored projects should be cut.

Actually it’s not, unless you’re one of those morons(and apparently Dusty is one of them) who believes all spending is equal, and that spending on piss Jesus is the equivalent of spending on national security.

xblade on July 20, 2012 at 8:14 PM

Well said.

HTL on July 20, 2012 at 8:20 PM

crash72 on July 20, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Sorry, Hos, that dog don’t hunt.

The Army is dropping its sponsorship of a NASCAR driver since it hasn’t shown to be a benefit to recruiting at all, though they are still sponsoring drag racers (figure that one out).

I do this every day. The SASC shut it down because reid hates US.

crash72 on July 20, 2012 at 8:26 PM

Military spending is important to most nations, with each country spending to its own need and ability. Canada spends 6.3 percent of its total yearly budget on military spending. The United States spends 19.3 percent of its budget on military expenses. Mexico uses 3.3 percent of its budget for military spending.

Nicaragua spends 3.2 percent of its yearly budget on military expenses. In Columbia, military spending is 11.9 percent of its annual budget. Argentina military spending is 5.9 percent of its yearly budget.

In Scandinavia and Europe, military spending is relatively low. Norway spends 4.8 percent of its budget on military spending, while its neighbor Sweden spends 4.3 percent of its budget on the military. In the U.K., military spending is 6.3 percent of the yearly expenditure. In Germany, military spending is 3.3 percent. In France, military spending is 5.4 percent of France’s yearly budget. Italy uses 4.5 percent of its annual budget for military spending. The annual military spending of Spain is 4.2 percent.

In the Middle East, the level of military spending is generally higher than in Europe. In the United Arab Emirates, military spending makes up 45.7 percent of the country’s annual budget. In Iran, military spending is 21.7 percent of its allocated budget. The military expenditure of Pakistan is 23.1 percent of all its yearly expenditures.
Morocco spends 13.6 percent of its annual budget on military expenditures. The military of South Africa is 4.8 percent of its budget. In India, military spending is 18.6 percent of its total spending. Thailand spends 7 percent of its money on its military. Indonesia sends 6.5 percent of its budget in the military.

Australia spends 7.1 percent of its budget on its military. New Zealand military spending is 3.1 percent of the New Zealand yearly budget. In China, 18.2 percent of the annual budget is spent on military expenses. South Korea spends 12 percent of its total yearly expenditures on the military. In Japan, the military spending percentage is 6.4 percent of the country’s annual budget. Russia spends 18.7 percent of its annual budget on the military.

http://visualeconomics.creditloan.com/how-countries-spend-their-money/

Funny how all our enemies spend either as much or more of their budget on the military..

melle1228 on July 20, 2012 at 5:11 PM

Good points melle. There’s a reason for these expenditure rates by our allies.

It’s because of the existence of the United States.

The budgets of all these countries don’t exist in a vacuum. As long as the U.S. exists as a counter-point to China and Russia, these countries can go through the motions of “defense spending”.

Take the U.S. out of the equation and you either have capitulation or skyrocketing defense budgets.

itsspideyman on July 20, 2012 at 8:29 PM

Chants in Iran: Death to America, the infidel

sharrukin on July 20, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Oh, I feel so threatened. Let’s bomb them because they’re so scary and could overthrow our country.

Dante on July 20, 2012 at 9:04 PM

5) In spite of the Paulnuts blathering, we spend money on the military because it makes us safer. And frankly, because we can’t count on anyone else in the world to spend the money on our behalf. We fight overseas, so that we don’t have to fight our enemies here.

tom on July 20, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Such faulty thinking. How about letting other countries fund their defense instead of the American citizen doing it?

Dante on July 20, 2012 at 9:06 PM

Oh, I feel so threatened. Let’s bomb them because they’re so scary and could overthrow our country.

Dante on July 20, 2012 at 9:04 PM

Your blindspots are truly awe-inspiring, especially since I just pointed out why Iran is a real threat to the U.S. They are striving for regional hegemony. If they were allowed, they would be able to terrorize and/or overthrow the governments of every single oil-producing state in the area. At that point, the price of oil would necessarily skyrocket. Even though we could strive for energy independence, we would still get caught up in that debacle, because oil is traded on an international market.

Unless you want to institute price controls on the price of oil. Which seems unlikely, for an obvious Paultard (sorry, there’s no other word) such as yourself.

HTL on July 20, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Crash,

I did it every day for 22 years, my father did it for 29 years, my older brother for 20. I have three brothers in law that have been doing it for a total of over 40 years and counting. My father in law did it for 26 years.

I could go on and on but I have more than a passing knowledge of military funding and spending.

in a time when actual, beneficial military program need funding, the DoD has no business wasting money on funding racing teams for some ephemeral recruiting benefit.

catmman on July 20, 2012 at 9:23 PM

HTL, just let it go.

You’re debating a guy who believes the Jews were responsible for 9/11. Dante is an Islamist apologist. you’re wasting your time.

catmman on July 20, 2012 at 9:26 PM

Such faulty thinking. How about letting other countries fund their defense instead of the American citizen doing it?

Dante on July 20, 2012 at 9:06 PM

Which countries?

If you’re talking about the Euroweenies, I’m with you! We’ve bailed out their sorry butts in TWO world wars, spent decades guarding them from the Red menace…all for what? So they could build socialist dream castles that are now crashing down, all the while sniffing their noses at us.

MelonCollie on July 20, 2012 at 9:37 PM

5) In spite of the Paulnuts blathering, we spend money on the military because it makes us safer. And frankly, because we can’t count on anyone else in the world to spend the money on our behalf. We fight overseas, so that we don’t have to fight our enemies here.

tom on July 20, 2012 at 5:53 PM

Such faulty thinking. How about letting other countries fund their defense instead of the American citizen doing it?

Dante on July 20, 2012 at 9:06 PM

The problem with your statement is your complete ignorance of the rationale for having a strong defense.

Comparing our defense spending to other countries is irrelevant. We don’t really have a strong defense for the benefit of other countries. It’s for our own benefit.

We had two very painful experiences with global war, known as World War 1 and World War 2. In both cases, we took the approach of neutrality for a long time, but eventually were sucked into the war anyway.

World War 2 in particular was a near-existential threat. We had to mobilize nearly the entire nation to fight essentially two wars at the same time, even though we referred to them as two “theaters” of war instead.

Both come down to the same thing: we were unprepared for war, and it took a very long time to get up to speed and win them. Which is exactly why so many died in the war, and why it dragged on for 5 years. If not for nuclear weapons used against two Japanese cities, we would probably have lost 100 thousand good men toppling the Japanese government.

After such an experience, most of our country learned the lesson: you can’t sit back and wait for an attack before you move to build up a defense. If you’re strong before the attack, then the attack doesn’t come.

I’m sorry that Ron Paul is too slow to grasp that we’re no longer a second-rate power that the rest of the world freely ignores. I’m sorry he can’t grasp that the oceans that we used to trust to insulate us from enemies can now be crossed by planes within a day. I’m sorry that he can’t grasp that the same nuclear bombs that devastated Japan and handed us the victory in World War 2 can now be used by second- and third-rate powers against us.

There is legitimate room to criticize our defense posture. It appears we overemphasize keeping the world “stable,” which leads us to intervene too often in situations where we could possibly have avoided it.

Unfortunately, what we get from Ron Paul is not thoughtful critique of our current foreign policy, but simplistic and laughable assertions that if we just stop spending the money and withdraw back to our own shores and trust to the oceans to keep out the rest of the world, the rest of the world will leave us alone.

They won’t. The world is full of greedy people who want to extort money and power from the rest of the world, and as long as we have money and resources and the ability to intervene, they will be aggressive against us. They may be aggressive to seize the advantage from us directly, or maybe just to ensure we can’t get in the way of their seizing the advantage from someone else.

It wasn’t that long ago that greedy European nations took advantage of their relative strength to make colonies across the world. It’s been less time than that since Russian leaned hard on one of its neighbors to effectively make it a puppet state, and threatened to cut off the oil pipeline to Europe to keep them compliant.

The world is still a dangerous place. Even more dangerous are the fools proclaiming themselves to be wise who dismiss all threats as nonexistent.

tom on July 20, 2012 at 10:06 PM

The problem with your statement is your complete ignorance of the rationale for having a strong defense.

I’m all for a strong defense, but I believe it should be used to defend our borders, not someone else’s.

Comparing our defense spending to other countries is irrelevant. We don’t really have a strong defense for the benefit of other countries. It’s for our own benefit.

Straw man.

Unfortunately, what we get from Ron Paul is not thoughtful critique of our current foreign policy, but simplistic and laughable assertions that if we just stop spending the money and withdraw back to our own shores and trust to the oceans to keep out the rest of the world, the rest of the world will leave us alone.

Another straw man. Paul has never said nor believes that. He wouldn’t be for a strong defense if he did.

Even more dangerous are the fools proclaiming themselves to be wise who dismiss all threats as nonexistent.

tom on July 20, 2012 at 10:06 PM

And now the hat trick for straw men.

Dante on July 20, 2012 at 10:33 PM

Dante the Truther, also a Herr Doktor apologist.

catmman on July 20, 2012 at 10:38 PM

And now the hat trick for straw men.

Dante on July 20, 2012 at 10:33 PM

You don’t even understand what a straw man is….

tom on July 20, 2012 at 10:48 PM

Let us not forget that Dante tried to convince us that Iran was not a credible threat. When faced with arguments that he was, to put it politely, incorrect, he chose to change the subject.

So Dante, would you care to try and defend your (stupid) point? Or would you rather just continue to leave rhetorical bags of flaming crap for everyone else to deal with?

Being a Paultard apparently means never having to defend your own theses.

HTL on July 20, 2012 at 10:54 PM

Defense and justice, fairness, etc. are viewed differently.

Defense and justice are enumerated responsibilities. Fairness here means the welfare state, which is not an enumerated federal responsibility.

AshleyTKing on July 21, 2012 at 1:13 AM

The fact is defense spending is government spending, and by its very nature government spending is inefficient.

There is a difference. Defense is one of Congress’ enumerated powers. Cowboy poetry, midnight basketball, school lunches, etc. are not. So, while I agree that cuts need to happen everywhere, there needs to be a priority list and items that fall within the enumerated powers of Congress ought to be at the bottom of the list.

Odysseus on July 21, 2012 at 8:06 AM

Your blindspots are truly awe-inspiring, especially since I just pointed out why Iran is a real threat to the U.S. They are striving for regional hegemony. If they were allowed, they would be able to terrorize and/or overthrow the governments of every single oil-producing state in the area. At that point, the price of oil would necessarily skyrocket. Even though we could strive for energy independence, we would still get caught up in that debacle, because oil is traded on an international market.

Unless you want to institute price controls on the price of oil. Which seems unlikely, for an obvious Paultard (sorry, there’s no other word) such as yourself.

HTL on July 20, 2012 at 9:21 PM

Iran is no threat to the U.S. You say they’re striving for regional hegemony. The U.S. is on the other side of the word, not of their region. You say they want to terrorize/overthrow the governments of the area. The U.S. is not in the area.

Dante on July 21, 2012 at 7:37 PM

I agree with Happy Nomad. Most of these cuts will be taken from the retirees and currently serving military. That will be people like my family. My husband and I are both unemployed and have a disabled child to support. My husband’s military retirement is the only income we currently have. It isn’t enough to pay the bills but it’s enough to keep us from losing our home. What bills we cannot pay are put aside until they are threatening to send them to the collection agency. Then we pay that particular bill while others go unpaid. There is no way that my family will be able to pay increased health care costs. Our copays just went up this year by the way for those of you who think we don’t pay enough.

We tell everyone we know, especially relatives, not to have anything to do with the military because they are busy breaking their promises. We have been told by MOAA (an association for retired military that receives current info regularly from members of Congress and their staffers) that not only does Obummer plan to greatly increase our health costs while reducing our choices, but that he and the people he has put in the Pentagon are planning on cutting retirement to Current Retirees if they can get away with it. I have always found information from MOAA to be accurate in the past.

sherrimae on July 21, 2012 at 10:00 PM

The fact is defense spending is government spending, and by its very nature government spending is inefficient.

Agreed 100%. However, I still think defense spending is inherently more legitimate than government spending on social programs. Education is a private interest. National defense is by definition a community interest, and as such is one of the few core roles of government. The US Constitution explicitly acknowledged this.

Defense spending, like all government spending, is no doubt inefficient. Further, we may even be spending more on defense than is necessary to protect national security. But at least spending on defense is a legitimate role for government.

netster007x on July 21, 2012 at 10:50 PM