Rich Lowry / June 18, 2021

Trillions for Domestic Spending, Not a Cent More for Defense

Biden’s approach is lacking, and disturbingly so.

Joe Biden isn’t known for his austerity, except when it comes to the nation’s defense.

As part of his welcome emphasis on competition with China, the president cajoled reluctant European countries at the G-7 summit into releasing a statement critical of China, on top of the announcement of an infrastructure program meant to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

That’s all fine as far as it goes, but a glaring omission from Biden’s campaign is a defense budget that reflects the growing challenge from Beijing.

Indeed, Biden justifies almost any increased domestic spending as designed to check China’s ambitions, at the same time he neglects what is most needful to keep China from dominating its region and waging war on our allies or perhaps the U.S. itself.

If we can deter China from taking Taiwan with subsidies for electric cars, Biden is inarguably the Churchill of his time.

If we can counter China’s defense buildup with more funding for affordable housing, Biden deserves to take his place beside Alfred Thayer Mahan or George Kennan as great strategic thinkers.

Otherwise, his approach is lacking, and disturbingly so.

Biden’s infrastructure plan, a sprawling proposal that would spend $2.3 trillion on everything from roads and bridges to affordable housing and elder care, is about the “global competition with China,” the president insists.

By Biden’s way of thinking, whatever progressives have wanted to do for years is suddenly a priority in the new Cold War. The left-wing “explainer” website Vox now claims, “Improving domestic infrastructure and investing in new and emerging technologies, especially clean energy technology, is the best way the U.S. can challenge China for supremacy on the world stage.” The publication quoted a Democratic congressional aide, “The best way to enact a progressive agenda is to use China [as a] threat.”

There are indeed areas of advanced technology that we need to invest in, especially semi-conductors and artificial intelligence (a $250 billion Senate bill passed last week is an imperfect step in this direction), but it’s not true that we can simply windmill our way to victory over China.

Although you might miss it listening to Biden, there are threats from China that don’t involve infrastructure spending or clean energy initiatives.

China has been growing its annual defense spending by more than 6% a year.

It has now surpassed the U.S. and technically has the largest navy in the world.

It is on pace to double its nuclear weapons over the next decade.

It has flown hundreds of sorties near Taiwan this year, and a top U.S. admiral warns that it could invade in the next six years.

Given all that, one might expect the openhanded Biden to invest substantially in a stronger, more advanced U.S. military, but his profligacy doesn’t extend so far. He increased defense budget spending by about 2%, which won’t even keep up with inflation.

This doesn’t come close to what we realistically need. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley said at a U.S. Naval Institute event late last year, “We’re going to have to have a much larger fleet than we have today, if we’re serious about great power competition and deterring great power war.” He called for a 3-5% increase in the budget every year but didn’t think that was plausible because of fiscal constraints (little did he know, the $6 trillion blowout to come in every other area of the budget).

We should be spending more on defense, and spending differently. With an eye to deterring conflict with China, we need to recalibrate in a serious way to focus on advanced technologies and weapons systems for the Navy and Air Force, and in space. Hypersonics, directed energy, and control of the electromagnetic spectrum should be particular priorities.

Biden has no excuse for not pursuing this. It’s not as though he can say we can’t afford it.

© 2021 by King Features Syndicate

Start a conversation using these share links:

Who We Are

The Patriot Post is a highly acclaimed weekday digest of news analysis, policy and opinion written from the heartland — as opposed to the MSM’s ubiquitous Beltway echo chambers — for grassroots leaders nationwide. More

What We Offer

On the Web

We provide solid conservative perspective on the most important issues, including analysis, opinion columns, headline summaries, memes, cartoons and much more.

Via Email

Choose our full-length Digest or our quick-reading Snapshot for a summary of important news. We also offer Cartoons & Memes on Monday and Alexander’s column on Wednesday.

Our Mission

The Patriot Post is steadfast in our mission to extend the endowment of Liberty to the next generation by advocating for individual rights and responsibilities, supporting the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and promoting free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values. We are a rock-solid conservative touchstone for the expanding ranks of grassroots Americans Patriots from all walks of life. Our mission and operation budgets are not financed by any political or special interest groups, and to protect our editorial integrity, we accept no advertising. We are sustained solely by you. Please support The Patriot Fund today!

★ PUBLIUS ★

“Our cause is noble; it is the cause of mankind!” —George Washington

The Patriot Post is protected speech, as enumerated in the First Amendment and enforced by the Second Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America, in accordance with the endowed and unalienable Rights of All Mankind.

Copyright © 2021 The Patriot Post. All Rights Reserved.

The Patriot Post does not support Internet Explorer. We recommend installing the latest version of Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome.