Don’t let the hawks win

November 21, 2011

The Supercommittee has failed. Their mandate to cut $1.5 trillion from the federal budget over 10 years was too great a hurdle for its members to climb. Now the automatic provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011 will kick in. These require half of the $1.2 trillion in spending reductions to come from the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs; the National Nuclear Security Administration; some management functions of the intelligence community; and the international affairs budget from the State Department.

Already the fight over these required cuts is on. The war hawks in Congress are starting to circle in an effort to kill the automatic cuts to the military that are included in Budget Control Act. Reuters reports:

[T]he defense industry turns to lawmakers to undo the automatic cuts known as “sequestration.”

Top Republicans, including Senator John McCain, have already said they will pursue legislation to do just that, although President Barack Obama has said he would not support such a move

Republican Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, says in the Bloomberg video above that across-the-board cuts would not apply to Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare beneficiaries, civil and military employee pay, or veterans. He says these areas need to equally share in budget cuts. There are certainly reductions that can be made in every area of the gargantuan federal budget. But I think we really need to dig deep when members of Congress fight to protect the U.S. military on grounds of global insecurity. In the case of Senator Sessions it’s useful to know a little about the dominance of military spending in his state. Bloomberg did a brilliant article last week that explained:

Overall defense spending in Madison County, [Alabama] jumped 76 percent over a decade to $15,889 a person, the sixth-highest in the country, based on data compiled by Bloomberg. In the six years since the nationwide base realignment, military contracts in the area have swelled 48 percent to $32 billion, bringing in 4,650 new government jobs.

The United States spent approximately $700 billion, or 4.7 percent of GDP in 2010, on the military. China, a much bigger nation, spent $114B, or 2.2 percent of their GDP.

For a nation who borrows 40 cents of every federal dollar we spend, this is wholly unsustainable. There will have to be reductions of our estimated 700 to 1,000 military installations around the world and of our massive domestic military-industrial complex. It’s time for Congress to get us off the great historic debt path. Reducing our massive military spending is the first place to make substantial reductions.

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