I wanted to do a follow up on military spending with a question… Why is everyone so afraid of cutting defense? We (the US) spend more on Defense than the rest of the world combined. These spending levels will once again be at the forefront of the next budget battle brewing in Congress. The Democrats and President Obama will have the upper hand in the negotiations because of the Sequester; it’s still there ready to automatically cut DOD by 8% or ~$55B on March 1. Not much considering the DOD annual budget authority has erupted in the last ten years, with 2012 spending levels at ~$700B. The common argument used by the DOD protectors is “it’s for the troops” talking point. While that plays well to the MSM, is it true?
To see if that’s the case, the chart below shows the average pay, in thousands, for active duty personnel since 1960 (right axis). The left axis shows the total DOD spending since 1960 in billions. Both are adjusted to eliminate any inflationary factors.
You can see that during the last ten years, the huge water faucet of money has been going to the corporations not the troops. Defense companies like Haliburton, Lockheed Martin, and Academi (formally Xe, formally Black Water) have been lining up at the government trough. We are due to start collecting our peace dividend, if only we can stay out of anymore wars.
It’s time to start rearranging our priorities in this country. Yes, the United States needs a strong Defense. Though it seems that Defense spending is becoming another form of corporate welfare, safe and secure, wrapped in the blanket of patriotism. This spending is protected because anyone who questions it is labeled un-American. The key to limiting Defense spending is to cut the actual DOD core budget, not the war funding that will reduce as we withdraw our troops.
A few weeks ago, many of you voted and commented on my diary including Andrew Sullivan. The survey results are interesting and show that most of you feel the same way about Defense spending.
• 60% of voters wanted to cut Defense by 20% (~$140B) or more
• 8% of voters wanted to cut Defense by 5% (~$35B) or less
• And 10% wanted to cut Defense at the sequester level of 8% (~$55B)
So if it was left up to us, Defense spending would be reduced substantially. Now if we can just convince Congress to go along with us…