An Alliance Worth Encouraging

A "Tea Party-Progressive Coalition For Defense Cuts":

"Republicans should resist pressure to take all defense spending off the table. ... Taking defense spending off the table is indefensible. We need to protect our nation, not the Pentagon's sacred cows." Those words come not from a progressive Democrat or antiwar activist, but from famed ultra-conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), who wrote a bold op-ed last week chiding his fellow Republicans for their resistance to reducing the defense budget. Coburn is the latest in a string of Senate Republicans to come out in favor of scaling back the Pentagon's treasure chest, which makes up the largest chunk of discretionary spending in the federal budget. With the U.S. debt now exceeding $13 trillion, sensible efforts to cut wasteful spending while minimizing cuts to job-enhancing measures for average Americans are more welcome than ever. In early December, President Obama's Deficit Reduction Commission will release its plan to Congress, likely setting off a furious debate about the proper measures to take to rein in U.S. debt. Slowly, Tea Party-backed conservatives interested in downsizing the government and progressives who have long sought to lower U.S. defense spending are coming together to ensure that reducing the military budget to a more appropriate size for the 21st century will be prominent part of the debate.

That's the liberals at Think Progress talking. They have more on the subject here, here, and here. Good to see them taking a break from demonizing the Tea Parties to see if there's an area where a left/right coalition can be forged.

One friendly amendment: Please stop referring to every Pentagon cut as a "defense" cut. The reductions we're discussing here aren't going to leave Americans any more vulnerable than before.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    Oh man, it would be gold to see those welfare queens at Sikorsky, Lockheed, Grumman, Raytheon, etc. squeal.

  • TheOtherSomeGuy||

    Why spend $10 billion dollars on an air craft carrier than can be destroyed by a single Cruise missle that costs $1 million?

    Don't cut the DoD's budget. Attack it up with a machete.

  • cynical||

    Why spend thousands of dollars training a soldier that can be killed by a single bullet?

  • Corduroy||

    sensible efforts to cut wasteful spending while minimizing cuts to job-enhancing measures for average Americans are more welcome than ever

    We loves our job enhancing measures.

  • Jeffersonian||

    I'll admit I'm wary of defense cuts, but surely there's 10% of waste at the Pentagon that can be ferreted out. Make the cut and let them find it.

  • RyanXXX||

    Any person calling themselves a Jeffersonian should be wary of a standing army, not "defense cuts"

  • Guest-1||

    "Millions for defense, not one cent for tribute."

    That being said I think TJ would puke in his cornflakes to see us occupying so much of the world.

  • Steve||

    We do not "occupy the world," only Afganhistan.

  • Guest-1||

    Sorry, poor choice of words...stationed on so much of the world

  • ||

    Lord, there's nothing sacred about defense spending. We don't have to send all the troops home and close all of our bases everywhere. Let's just cut some spending. We won the Cold War, after all.

  • Matrix||

    The military is evolving past a Cold War style military. They still think in terms of "biggest and fastest". But they need to think more of counter-guerilla measures, since that is our biggest problem right now.

    The world is going beyond traditional warfare to this urban style of combat, and the US military is trying to adapt. Unfortunately, they still do a lot in spending money "just in case" we have another traditional war. Hey, Russia might try to rattle our sabres again!

  • Apogee||

    Don't think Russia, think China.

  • ||

    Robots. Flying robots. Walking robots. Underwater robots.

    Oh, and death rays from space.

  • Gay Robot||

    Hey guyths. I love a robot in uniform. That is all. Later fagths. Hehehehehehe.

  • ||

    The way to go after the defense budget isn't the feeble lie of "cutting waste, fraud, and abuse".

    The way to go after the defense budget is to state a clear mission for the armed forces, and cut whole programs and units that do not advance that mission. That way you can take out money in big chunks without the degradation of necessaries that comes with "across the board" cuts.

    This, by the way, is how you cut every agency and program. A simple, clear, closed-end mission statement, followed by the meataxe.

  • Corduroy||

    Something about a nail and a head...

  • Agency||

    Got it!

    Our simple, clear, closed-end mission is to use our hammer head so that everything looks like a nail.

  • ||

    ""The way to go after the defense budget is to state a clear mission for the armed forces, and cut whole programs and units that do not advance that mission.""

    To protect and defend all American interests across the globe.

  • RyanXXX||

    lol

  • Apogee||

    The elimination of Political Correctness would result in an increased focus on actual military deterrent, with the resultant reduction of defense expenditures.

    There is quite a bit of money dedicated to the ruse that the U.S. Military can be used for 'peace keeping'.

  • Matrix||

    Yeah, it is really silly. The military is trained to seek, destroy, and occupy... not "peace keeping" or humanitarian efforts, though a lot of money is diverted into that. It just doesn't work very well.

  • Apogee||

    Piece making, not peace keeping.

  • Large, Five-Sided Building||

    How many pieces would you like Iran broken up into?

  • Steve||

    Several million will do.

  • Rrabbit||

    Yep. An army does not make a good police force. An army where soldiers do not speak the local language make a horrible police force.

  • ¢||

    The way to go after the defense budget isn't the feeble lie of "cutting waste, fraud, and abuse".

    Right.

    And the way to fool the teacrackaz into signing on to Krugmaniacal "investments in infrastructure and job creation" isn't by pretending you want to cut defense spending to fund them.

    So that isn't what's up.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Here would be my "compromise" if I were sitting on the other side.

    Every dollar they cut out the defense budget, a dollar gets cut from either SS or Medicare.

    It's the essence of actual compromise. Nobody is happy, but everybody can live with it because they feel the other side didn't get everything they wanted.

  • Gramps||

    Every dollar they cut out the defense budget, a dollar gets cut from either SS or Medicare.

    Screw you, Sonny! Take it from the Pell Grantz, or whatever you youngsters call it these days.

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Right back at you Gramps. If your old ass had taken care of these boondoggles back when you could still pee and stand at the same time, we wouldn't have to deal with them now.

  • Irresponsible Hater||

    Liberaltarianism is dead.

    Long live libertarialism?

  • Rastus||

    The way to go after the defense budget isn't the feeble lie of "cutting waste, fraud, and abuse".

    It's the way to go after the *Medicare* budget.

  • ||

    Vast bureaucratic resources are expended every year on this already. There's lots still in there, sure, but you aren't getting it out. Its endemic, given the size and nature of the program. Pretending you can is the lie.

  • ||

    Since bankruptcy is the only other way out of Medicare and SS, any other options not called privatization?

  • ||

    There's always just plain default.

  • ||

    But if we cut our marching bands, the terrorists will have won!

  • ||

    "Please stop referring to every Pentagon cut as a "defense" cut."

    That'll happen when Democrats stop claiming cuts to the Dept. of Education "hurt children." Too much political gain to be made by phrasing it that way. McCain would rather sleep with his wife than cut a defense appropriation.

  • Joe M||

    Taking defense spending off the table is indefensible.

    I see what you did there.

  • ||

    Is it possible that cutting the military budget would make overseas ventures less of an option? That this would decrease our reliance on military options and force us to come up with alternative, more diplomatic options to international issues? And, that once we are no longer seen as aggressive, we would become less of a target for "extremists" seeking to redress perceived injust American acts?

    Could less defense spending reign in our behavior, and end up making us safer in the long run?

  • ||

    World War II says otherwise.

  • ||

    James, James, James.

    Extremists will target the US as long as we are the West's top dog. Regardless of whether we have much of a military. Nobody says "They've got the most powerful army the world has ever seen! Let's piss them off!"

    Cutting our military may or may not lead to more diplomatic solutions, since the absence of a military option tends to encourage our enemies to resist negotiated solutions. People do say "So, if we piss them off, what can they do about it? Bupkis, you say? Innteresting?"

    There are good reasons to cut the military, but expecting a smaller US military to result in an outbreak of goodwill worldwide is not one of them.

  • Woodrow||

    The nutroots has refused to see the Tea Party movement as anything other than a bunch of social conservatives eventhough I never hear any of those people talking about abortion, gay marriage etc.

  • ||

    That's because the nutroots, authoritarians all, have correctly identified the Tea Parties as the enemy of the Total State they so earnestly desire.

    And, they have also correctly determined that diverting the Tea Parties onto divisive social issues is the surest way to destroy them.

  • ||

    My computer won't let me reply directly to comments today. I don't know why.

    Here goes: WWII--three countries with expanding military budgets and an urge to pursue military ventures: Germany, Japan, Italy. How did WWII end up for them?

    RCDean--So you see no connection between US military action in, say, the Middle East, and attacks against the US? Didn't Bin Laden and the 9/11 hijackers make reference to our war and continuing blockade of Iraq as part of their justification for attacking us? (Israel being another major justification)

  • ||

    It could be argued that OBL would have found any reason, or made one up to justify his actions.

    If there's one thing humans are good at, it's finding excuses to justify their actions.

  • ||

    Hey, my computer is working again!

    You could argue that. Why is it that we have such a hard time actually listening to the Muslims when they say why they are attacking us? Why do we assume that their thought processes don't mean anything in regard to their actions?

    Sure, random people could do random stuff for no reason. Most people don't.

  • ||

    Those same jihadists have also stated they want to see the Caliphate spread all over the world, starting with the old Moorish empire in Spain and eventually including the US.

    I hear that loud and clear.

  • RyanXXX||

    No, those "same" jihadists aren't saying that. All radical clerics DO NOT EQUAl Al Qaeda

  • ||

    So now Al-Qaida is moderate? I feel better. The real point is that there's always someone who will push, and we can't just retreat into a shell.

  • Zeb||

    Not moderate, but all extremists do not have the same goals or intentions. You are being deliberately obtuse.

  • ||

    Because they also say things about how people want to back a strong horse instead of a weak horse, or about how they really hate the plebiscite in East Timor, or about how forcing Spain to withdraw troops was a huge victory.

    They say a lot of things. Selectively picking out the stuff that fits with your worldview isn't any better when you do it.

  • Zeb||

    SO doesn't that mean that everyone is selectively picking stuff that suits their preconceptions and no one really knows what their motives or intentions are?

  • seanrude||

    Osama also referenced the "Tragedy of Andalucia" as justification for attacking the west. Those people have very long memories, and are perpetually aggrieved. It really does not matter what we do. They are already pissed off at us.

  • Zeb||

    I have a hard time believing that there is an enemy determined to fuck shit up for the US as much as possible at all. It seems like shit should be blowing up every week if that were the case. There are so many easy targets out there and it really couldn't be that hard to get a few hundred determined bad guys into the country if they really have the resources and planning ability that they supposedly do.

  • Pompus ||

    Cut the defense all you want, just don't do the same to the unborn.

  • ||

    One friendly amendment: Please stop referring to every Pentagon cut as a "defense" cut.

    I'm afraid that the Think Progress types are too used to calling every "decrease in the already planned rate of growth" a "cut" to stop now. Or that government spending could be used for something unintended or fail to achieve its purpose.

    They wouldn't want to admit that logic applies to the rest of the budget.

  • RyanXXX||

    How will we defend against the Russian-Chinese-Jihadist alliance without a bloated, overfunded military?

    Not to mention the problems that would arise from withdrawing troops from Germany and Japan. What would stop the reincarnations of Hitler and Tojo from taking over the world?

    We live in a dangerous world, people.

  • Pompus||

    The Russian Jihadist alliance? You mean the one that saw Russian forces attack jihadist Chechnya, or the one that has Jihadists killing Orthodox Christian Priests in the doorsteps of their Churches? Put down the "Left Behind" Books and get with reality.

  • Zeb||

    I think that might have been a joke.

  • robc||

    It will be a lot easier to cut if we change the name back to Dept of War.

  • robc||

    More honest too.

  • Guest-1||

    also more Badass

  • Kratos||

    Also more respectful.

  • Guest-1||

    I wonder how much of our defense spending is based on the requirements of fighting a minimum impact war where we avoid collateral damage and rebuild the defeated foe afterward. That may be the smart way to go but how big a premium does it cost?

  • Steve||

    Let them rebuild themselves; It'll keep 'em busy.

  • Guest-1||

    To play Devil's advocate: While it might keep them busy it will also destabilize them fill them with a deep desire for vengeance at any cost. There is precedent for that working out poorly.

  • cynical||

    That precedent also involved a lot of ongoing and highly unpopular punitive measures.

  • ||

    That may be the smart way to go but how big a premium does it cost?

    Since a "minimum impact war" does not result in the unconditional surrender and delegitimization of our enemy, the war never (properly) ends. See, e.g., Iraq, Afghanistan.

    Since the amount of money that can be poured into a shithole country "rebuilding" it is unlimited, the premium is unlimited.

    Armies are for destroying our enemies. If they want to hand out candy bars to the kids along the way, fine. Diverting them to other purposes is counterproductive.

  • Guest-1||

    Right, I take your point, but to carry your logic farther (perhaps too far) we should only have nuclear weapons. Any country screws with us we make them glow green. Enemy destroyed, war over, fairly cheap. But that can't be right, can it?

  • Apogee||

    Strategic thinking requires the inclusion of factors other than simple brute force.

    Without the capability of occupying territory, the partial or complete destruction of an enemy force can actually work against the victorious party.

    International strategy has many players, and doesn't always come down to two sides. The rise of Iran with the removal of the Hussein regime is just one example. By eliminating a conventionally armed dictator, the US may have enabled another entrant into the nuclear club.

    The biggest strategic blunders are often linked to unintended consequences of other actions, taken or not taken.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    It would certainly make it more difficult to send in oil men with all of the radiation and all.

  • Tulpa||

    The DoD is the largest employer of mathematicians in the world, so I'm conflicted.

  • cynical||

    "One friendly amendment: Please stop referring to every Pentagon cut as a "defense" cut. The reductions we're discussing here aren't going to leave Americans any more vulnerable than before."

    That'll happen as soon as any cut to the Department of Education is not characterized as cutting "education". Confusing institutions with results is a bipartisan statist affliction.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement