The Right Opinion

Winning the Defense Spending Debate

By Ken Blackwell · Nov. 16, 2012

With no time to recover from a thorough election day whooping, Republicans in a lame duck Congress are facing an even worse budgetary nightmare than last year. And they only have two months to negotiate a solution with President Obama.

Last time, as the Chair of the Balanced Budget Amendment campaign, fellow conservatives and I were urging Republicans to tie the unavoidable increase in the debt ceiling to a balanced budget amendment. Because it also prohibited tax increases, the amendment would have required balance to be achieved through necessary cuts throughout the federal government.

But in the end, politicians did what you might expect: They punted the issue. And America will now face serious consequences.

Initially, liberals in Congress set up a plan called “sequestration” that has held the U.S. military hostage to their desire to raise taxes. The original plan was to convince other congressmen to cave to tax increases to prevent those defense cuts.

Now those cuts are scheduled to take effect in January, and they would harm our military readiness.

During the presidential foreign policy debate, President Obama declared that sequestration “will not happen.” Yet with $1.6 billion in tax increases on the table, he has already factored these military cuts into his fiscal planning for the future.

I agree with my longtime friend and former RSC Chairman, Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who said that while slashing the defense budget is undesirable, it is better than nothing. If the automatic cuts are suspended, the only thing taxpayers will have received in last year's deal was a $2.4 billion increase in debt.

Instead of accepting lazy and dangerous across-the-board defense cuts, Republicans must be at the negotiation table prepared with ideas for how to reduce military spending intelligently. When it comes to our military budget and vital national security programs, a scalpel is better than an indiscriminate budget ax.

And there are plenty of opportunities to find savings. On Thursday, Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma released a study of Defense Department cuts which could easily save taxpayers $68 billion over 10 years. For too long, Congress has perpetuated a system that protects redundant, wasteful and failing programs that bilk taxpayers and provide no benefits to our brave men and women in uniform.

One place to start slashing would be the experimental Standard Missile-3 IIB missile defense program, an interceptor that is to one day take out long-range enemy missiles. It is the foundation of the fourth phase of the President's so-called Phased Adaptive Approach, but the delivery of these missiles could still be a decade away.

Opposition to the SM-3 IIB has been mounting. The concept was singled out as a candidate for elimination by a recent missile defense report authored by the National Research Council.

“It's not that Phase 4 is a stupid idea or that it won't work,” Walter Slocombe, who co-chaired the NRC expert committee that wrote the report, said in an interview with Global Security Newswire. “It is that it is only necessary for the defense of the United States and there is a better way to do the defense.”

L. David Montague, former President of Lockheed Martin Missiles and Space program and a member of the National Research Council may have summed it up best: “For too long, the U.S. has been committed to expensive missile defense strategies without sufficient consideration of the costs and real utility.”

The SM-3 IIB, as an untested technology with fuzzy development timelines, epitomizes that problem. It was supposed to roll off production lines by 2020, but the U.S. Navy, as recently as last month, was still defining the missile's requirements and capabilities. Without a defined concept in mind, development, design and testing, and production are many years away. In fact, it may never be used, and taxpayers will be stuck with the bill.

What is confirmed by the National Research Council and other military experts is that our leaders would rather have scarce resources be spent in well-tested missile defense systems that have the best chance of protecting our homeland and allies.

There are certainly other examples, but wildly expensive experimental programs like the SM-3 IIB should be first on the chopping block if Republicans want to rid the Department of Defense of wasteful spending.

And as the budget debate becomes loud and vicious, we cannot allow liberals to hold the military hostage. Only by carefully considering the often overlooked details of military budget can we avoid higher taxes and a weakened national security.

5 Comments

d.w.hudson in Michigan said:

Wow! If you act right now, you could be the first kid on your block to compromise, capitulate, and sell your principles to the democrats! And if you call in the next 10 minutes, we'll double the offer. That's right. We'll let you increase the debt limit again! Just pay separate shipping and handling.
Shut it down. No more money. No budget deal. The House has the authority. Shut it down. Afraid democrats will get elected? Surprise. They already did. Shut it down.

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 4:17 PM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Good idea here, d.w. hudson. Your state's auto tsars, would feel the pinch, because they are still receiving largesse from the taxpayers.The military would get paid, and so would our socialist senators.Selfish socialists are really clever, when it comes to self preservation. Conservatives, are the most benevolent and charitable.The spider web of Socialism is being spun 24/7 around the nations. Lafcadio Hearn 1904.

Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 5:41 AM

MNIce in Minnesota said:

It's time for the House to actually use it power of the pursestrings, and yank them tight. Mr. Obama keeps saying we should "ask the wealthy to contribute more" as if requiring the 10% wealthiest to pay 50% of the taxes is not already enough. So we need to ask the recipients of federal largesse to give up some also.

It's time to ask the city politicians to give up some of their legacy building projects funded by federal HUD grants. And it's time to ask the world's richest poor people to give up some of their handouts. When they have a higher standard of living than those who work enough to pay more than $100 a year in federal taxes, the government programs are too generous. Federal "income security" programs are the fourth-largest category of expense, between defense and debt interest. We can't afford to spend $360 billion per annum on them so non-working people can buy big-screen TVs, DVRs and the latest computers, and spend all day consuming beer and tobacco while they watch pro wrestling and play games on the Internet.

Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 5:45 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

It would be nice if $360 billion is all we spent on Income security, It is more like $1 trillion a year. A recent report stated the government spent $60,000 dollars on each family on welfare. I'm sure this included the cost of manpower, EBT cards, printing of food stamps, and purchase of cell phones.

Saturday, November 17, 2012 at 7:10 PM

Alex in NJ replied:

I've always thought it was the overhead (inflated overhead of government workers) that jacked the cost up.

Sunday, November 18, 2012 at 9:10 AM