Urge the Congressional Supercommittee
(and our Nebraska federal officials)
To Cut Military Spending —
Not Funding for Domestic Programs
With just one week to go, Congress’s ‘supercommittee’ is racing to come up with a bipartisan plan to reduce the federal deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade.
On the table for discussion are cuts in military spending and domestic programs like Medicare, Social Security and education, as well as higher taxes for the wealthy.
Congressional failure to adopt a plan yet this year will trigger automatic cuts of $500 billion to the Pentagon and an equal amount on domestic spending.
The Pentagon is wailing that it’s already agreed to cut its budget by $450 billion over the next ten years — and that another $500 billion in cuts would leave America militarily weak and defenseless.
But as NFP has repeatedly argued this past year, Congress could easily cut our national security budget in half — by $500 billion A YEAR! — and America would still be the greatest military power on earth. Between the unnecessary weapons systems, our superfluous military bases in Germany and Japan, and the Pentagon’s chronic inability to account for literally trillions in appropriations, we’re just throwing money at the military nowadays.
As Lawrence Korb, an assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan Administration, just stated in the New York Times November 9, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
grossly exaggerates when he says it would be disastrous if projected levels of defense spending are reduced by an additional $500 billion if the bipartisan ‘supercommittee’ deadlocks and automatic cuts go into effect. Adding $500 billion to the $450 billion already being cut would mean total reductions of $950 billion over the next decade, or about 15 percent…
Since the defense budget has grown by more than 50 percent over the past ten years, it can easily absorb a 15 percent reduction — which would be about half the defense cuts of Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon and less than that of George H. W. Bush.
Please contact the supercommittee (and our Nebraska delegation members) and tell them that food, education and healthcare for the middle class and the poor are a lot more critical to our national security than the purchase of extravagant new weapons systems, the maintenance of hundreds of foreign military bases around the world, and the squandering of our tax dollars on a Pentagon that can even balance its books.
Tell them that by simply cutting the military budget Congress could reach its $1.2 trillion target. And that under no circumstances should we be cutting the heart out of domestic programs while protecting Pentagon waste and preserving tax cuts for the 1%.
Write the supercommittee at http://www.deficitreduction.gov/public/index.cfm/contact.
And then copy that same message to our Nebraska federal officials.
Click HERE for their contact information.
Paul Olson, Co-Chair of the NFP Anti-War Committee.
P.S. The following article from the Time Magazine website provides a short, point-by-point account for
why military spending is the logical way to reduce the deficit. Even the conservative media now acknowledges
that the military budget is bloated.
If you haven't been paying attention, this is where we stand on the Pentagon budget battle:
1. The Pentagon has already agreed to cut $450 billion over the coming decade from the roughly $7 trillion it had planned on getting. "These cuts are difficult and will require us to take some risks, but they are manageable," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wrote lawmakers this week. Likely targets are military health care and retirement accounts, cuts in the number of troops on active duty, and a reduction in the Pentagon's planned $350 billion buy of more than 2,400 F-35 fighters.
2. If the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction – the “super committee” – fails to come up with $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions by November 23 – and Congress has not approved it by January 15 – sequestration will occur under the Budget Control Act that established the super committee in August.
3. Under sequestration, the Pentagon would have to double its planned cuts over the coming decade, from the already-agreed upon $450 billion to at least $900 billion, and perhaps $1 trillion or more.
4. Funding for wars would not be affected.
5. Military personnel accounts could be shielded from cuts, so long as deeper cuts were made in other military accounts to make up the difference.
6. Sequestration would not kick in until January 2013, meaning Congress would have 12 months to change the budget – to get under the sequestration top-line – or change the law – so it doesn't have to obey it.
7. Panetta has said the Pentagon can not make the deeper cuts demanded under sequestration without hurting national security. If personnel accounts were protected, everything else would have to be cut by 23%, he said: "Such a large cut, applied in such an indiscriminate manner, would render most of our ship and construction projects 'unexecutable' -- you cannot buy three quarters of a ship or a building -- and seriously damage our modernization efforts," Panetta wrote the lawmakers. "We would also be forced to terminate most large procurement programs in order to accommodate modernization reductions that are likely to be required.” After 10 years of such reduced spending, he added, the U.S. military "would have the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915 and the smallest Air Force in its history."
8. All told, the defense budget under sequestration would fall 14% from its peak in 2010 to its lowest level, in 2013, according to an analysis by Todd Harrison of the independent Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
9. Nonetheless, the deeper cuts required under sequestration would only trim Pentagon spending back to 2007's level, in 2013. That would represent an 11% cut from 2012's budget. For the rest of the decade, the defense budget would grow as as much as inflation each year.
10. We'll leave this last one to the folks over at Aviation Week, long a trusted and friendly journal for the military-industrial complex. This is from the editorial in the magazine's latest issue:
Some of the hair-on-fire rhetoric of late has been unhelpful. The range of cuts being discussed is still well within the proportions of drawdowns after the ends of the Korean, Vietnam and Cold wars. Even the most drastic cuts will not end the U.S.'s superpower status.
Couldn't have said it better.
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Mark Thompson has covered national security in Washington since 1979, and for TIME since 1994.