AOC: 'No one asks how we're going to pay for the Space Force'

Ed has been all over Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’ interview on 60 Minutes but there’s just so much juicy content I can’t resist responding to a little bit of it myself. There came a moment in the interview when Anderson Cooper, speaking about her Green New Deal asked, “How are you going to pay for all of this?” That really is the question that has plagued AOC since she became a national figure promoting Democratic Socialism. Her answers have varied over time but in this case she had a new response.

“No one asks how we’re going to pay for the Space Force,” she replied.

You may notice that’s not an answer, it’s really a diversion. Her point is that if no one cares about how we’ll pay for this other policy, why should they care how we’ll pay for her Green New Deal. There are just a couple of problems with this. Let’s start with the really obvious one: Lots of people asked how we would pay for the Space Force. Here’s a report from Defense News last August, shortly after President Trump signed an executive order outlining the Space Force:

SASC Emerging Threats and Capabilities Chairwoman Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, was convinced threats in space needed to be taken seriously, but she was concerned a reorganization would be the wrong answer.

“There is a need for this. We just need to figure out the most efficient way to deliver on this project, whether its part of the Air Force,” said Ernst, a former Iowa National Guard officer. “How do we protect tax payer dollars and make sure they’re most efficiently used to achieve the objective.”

Here’s more from Politico:

The anti-Space Force movement — which includes generals and Republican and Democratic lawmakers — fears that carving the new branch out of the Air Force would siphon resources from other defense programs, strip them of authority or even weaken the military…

“I think it’s a really bad idea,” [Rep. Mike] Coffman, whose district includes Buckley Air Force Base and the 460th Space Wing, said in an interview. “I have worked to reduce the size of the Pentagon bureaucracy. And now we have a plan by this administration to expand that bureaucracy by creating a whole new branch of military service — a department of space — without, I believe, a commensurate increase in capability.”…

“The administration faces a big uphill battle on the budget side, in addition to the other bureaucratic challenges,” said Brian Weeden, a space policy expert at the Secure World Foundation who is tracking the debate closely. “It’s hard to see a scenario where the Space Force doesn’t need a bunch of additional money to not only fund the reorganization but also all the new programs and capabilities.”

He added: “That means any new money for Space Force will likely have to be taken from the budgets for the Army, Navy, Air Force or Marines. And that is going to be a very uphill battle for the Space Force proponents.”

And here’s an Atlantic story from November noting that the Space Force isn’t likely to happen now that Democrats control the House:

“I am opposed to President Trump’s proposal for a Space Force,” Adam Smith, a representative from Washington State, said in a statement Wednesday. “I am concerned that his proposal would create additional costly military bureaucracy at a time when we have limited resources for defense and critical domestic priorities, and I do not believe it is the best way to advance U.S. national security.”

This is just a sampling but it shows that Republicans, Democrats, and policy experts have all expressed concern about the cost of a new bureaucracy and where the money would come from. Maybe AOC hasn’t been paying attention? She also brings up the tax cut. I won’t go through it all but once again there were lots of people asking how we would pay for it (and some people pointing out that the money belongs to the taxpayers in the first place, not the government).

The other problem with her comment on 60 Minutes is that, at worst, the cost of the new Space Force was estimated to be around $13 billion over the first five years. Don’t get me wrong, that’s a lot of money and, as you can see, there was some concern whether spending all of that was really necessary.

But that amount is insignificant compared to the cost of AOC’s plans for health care, just to take one example. The Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All plan has been estimated to cost $25 to $35 trillion over ten years. Just taking the midpoint there, if we estimate the cost would be about $3 trillion per year that means it would cost more than 1,000 times as much as the Space Force over the first five years ($15 trillion vs. $13 billion).

What AOC is doing here is hand-waving an amount of money which is orders-of-magnitude greater than the potential cost of the Space Force. She’s like a teenager who wants her parents to buy her a Ferrari and when they ask how they could possibly afford such a car she says, “No one asks how to pay for gas for dad’s Honda Accord.” Well, there’s a reason for that.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg with AOC’s proposals. The total cost of eliminating all fossil fuels and creating “social justice” would be much higher than that. Suggesting that we shouldn’t bother asking how to pay for all of it or what impact it would have on people and the economy is absurd. And yet, a lot of people just voted this character from fantasyland into office. That’s the really worrisome part, not just that her ideas are indefensible but that they’re increasingly popular.

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