Will Republicans Cut Military Spending?


A different kind of money bomb.

A report in this morning's Wall Street Journal starts by saying that "Congress is likely to see an influx of conservatives with a broad mandate to slash federal spending after next month's elections, but whether major cuts to military spending will be on the table remains unresolved." We can probably resolve the matter right now just by saying that it won't happen. As much as I'd like to see the GOP—or Democrats, for that matter—push to trim both the defense budget and America's global military ambitions, there's very little sign that most Republicans are actually prepared to consider cuts of any significance. Indeed, most prominent conservative groups, as well as many prominent conservative politicians, are pushing to keep defense spending untouchable.

Just look at the Journal's report. The article suggests that some Republicans may jump on board with a cost-cutting "efficiency drive" by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. But amongst GOP legislators, policy shops, and political bigshots, the issue looks rather one-sided.

Against defense spending cuts, the article points to a platoon of conservative heavyweights: AEI, the Heritage Foundation, the Foreign Policy Initiative, Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio, and the folks behind the GOP's recent Pledge to America. For defense spending cuts, the article has…Rand Paul. And yes, it also has his father, Ron Paul, who recently cosigned a letter with Democrats Barney Frank and Ron Wyden urging the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility to consider military cuts as a way to bring down the national debt. But outside of the Pauls, the article names no Republican legislators who seem interested in paring back America's excessive military spending. Instead, it says that "several GOP candidates have said military-spending reductions should be considered," though it doesn't say which ones, or how many, or if they're likely to win or hold positions of influence. And it claims that "some observers are speculating whether fiscal conservatives…will make common cause with liberal lawmakers who back reductions in military outlays." This observer would be happy if those observers turned out to be right. But it doesn't seem very likely.

Read Veronique de Rugy on America's trillion-dollar war on terror

NEXT: Society for Professional Journalists: Mostly Mum on Molly Norris, and Trashing the Journalists Who Pointed That Out

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  1. The main reason that military spending will not be cut is that every useless base is in (or supplied from) and every useless or overpriced gadget is built in some congressman's district.

    1. This, plus the military is a huge welfare program for people who enter it to get paid for a few years and then use the GI Bill for an education. Like any welfare program, cutting it is mostly off the table.

      1. If your analysis is correct then the military is a welfare program that not only recruits recipients, but also incentivizes bringing in more recipients.


        1. Bingo, buddy.

          1. Fuck you Epi, after you've cut the military just who is going to fight alien invaders? When you're toiling in their alien salt mines just remember you cut the legs out from under the very thing that could have protected you.

            1. Duh, MNG. We'll have a draft if and when that happens. I signed that selective service card full aware of the alien invasion/zombie apocalypse threat.

            2. Oh, sure, you piece of shit; take the Independence Day view, as opposed to, say, the The Thing, The Arrival, or the They Live view! I should have known you'd take the Roland Emmerich view instead of the John Carpenter or the David Twohy view!

              1. The military got their ass kicked in Independence Day. If not for the computer hacker and crazy old RV dude, we'd all be dead now.

                1. I was thinking that minge is a scientologist and was referring to that horrible travolta flick that shall go unnamed.

              2. "I should have known you'd take the Roland Emmerich view instead of the John Carpenter or the David Twohy view!"

                I know you're angry right now so I'll pretend you didn't say that...

                1. (takes deep breath)

                  1. Really, I refuse to do business with someone who doesn't accept the alien visions of John Carpenter.

                    Put on the glasses.

            3. Zombies are the collectivist wet dream: a truly classless society that eats the rich.

              Alien overlords are more of a feudal paradigm.

              1. So? Killing zombies and fighting the zombie apocalypse is the libertarian gun nut's wet dream. Zombies truly are the best of all end-of-days scenarios.

                1. You mock but the dead already vote in Chicago.

                  1. Who will fight the alien invaders?

                    Why, America's hordes of blood-crazed gun nuts, that's who.

                    And we practice, and practice, and practice. On our XBoxes and PS3s.

                    We'll be ready. Oh, yes indeedy.

                2. So? Killing zombies and fighting the zombie apocalypse is the libertarian gun nut's wet dream. Zombies truly are the best of all end-of-days scenarios.

                  Of my non-sexual fantasies, this one is the most popular.

      2. Hey! I resemble that remark! The American taxpayer funded my beer and strippers for 10 long glorious years, and I'd like to thank all of you for it individually, but I've got a real job now. So, thanks, suckers!

    2. I still don't get why we can't trim overseas spending, then. Surely the Germans and Koreans aren't that well connected to the lobby train.

      We could save a load of money by keeping the military the same size, with the same weapons programs, but just keep them within our borders. That way, we save a bit and keep the congresscritters happy.

    3. Isn't there already another round of base closures set to happen next year?

  2. Military spending is the GOP's beloved form of tranfer program/pump priming. It also serves their fundamental militarism/nationalism. No way is it going to be cut by them.

    I mean, have you guys not heard about The Axis of Evil? There are two more to go!

    1. If you don't like foreign adventurism and huge military budgets, then just vote out the people who create such.


    2. Military spending is the GOP's beloved form of tranfer program/pump priming. It also serves their fundamental militarism/nationalism. No way is it going to be cut by them.

      Which explains why a Democrat Congress increased Defense spending by 25% in their first two years in office.

  3. I've always thought that from a political point of view the Democrats should have passed a stimulus that simply required construction projects, infrastructure and RD development for military bases and programs. Then the GOP would have loved it.

    1. Oh god, don't give them any ideas.

  4. Let the welfare queens & bailed-out mortgage borrowers take a cut in benefits first, then we can worry about cuts for soldiers & veterans.

    1. You do realize that we can treat soldiers well, and cut the budget, if we have less soldiers.

      1. Why do you have America??

        1. I have it 'cause I want it, and you ain't gettin' it.

          neener neener neener...

      2. Make that, "Why do you hate America??"

        1. This is what happens when it's 1:30pm and I still haven't had my morning cup of coffee stout.

          1. "You can't drink all day if you don't start in the morning." -- Founders Brewing; makers of Breakfast Stout, Kentucky Breakfast Stout, and Canadian Breakfast Stout

            1. "Bier trinkt man nicht nur zum Fr?hst?ck." -Schlafly Brewing Co.

      3. Agree capitol l. Less soldiers means less to take care of, and also less war. Bring them home from everywhere, and cut it in half at least. But I still want the screwed up soldiers taken care of (like myself). I will continue to use my GI Bill and other veterans benefits. Does this mean I have to give up my Libertarian Decoder Ring?

        1. I don't know how libertarian it is of me but I am pro GI Bill. I won't go into my reasoning, but let's just say that I am.

          Also, as I implied above we do not have to cheat soldiers to cut the military budget. But, some like to argue either we have a gigantic budget busting wars all over the place military, or we are throwing injured veterans with ptsd out in the streets(not to mention conceding to the muslim hoards).

          1. Again, I agree. Cutting the military budget dramatically and stopping the wars does not mean you're anti-soldier. Most of us soldiers could tell anyone that. But with the system we have now, as screwed up as it is, it would be obscene to not take care of those who get screwed up because of our stupid wars; any Libertarian would agree.

            Although I understand what Epi is saying, I wouldn't quite call it welfare. Its not free - we work our asses off for the college money, especially during a time of war. Whether or not we should be encouraging kids to go to war for the money is another story(we shouldn't).

      4. We do not need a smaller military; we probably need a bigger one. We will soon have a Navy with barely 1/3 as many ships as in the 1980s, but the Chinese are building a blue-water navy at a rapid pace.

        Since 2001 we have built up an Army and Marine Corps which knows how to fight the kind of insurrectionist wars we are likely to face over the next 50 years. Cut the military now, and a lot of that institutional knowledge will be lost. And if you cut the Navy, then the soldiers and marines won't be able to get where they need to go.

        Lastly, the Constitution never mentions SS or Medicare or corporate bailouts, but it does specify among the powers of Congress "To raise and support Armies" and "To provide and maintain a Navy."

        1. Sorry.

          I've seen threat inflation before. ("OMG! The Soviets have 140 divisions in Europe with 8,000 tanks and they have tactical nukes and they can be at the English Channel in 7 days."
          The 140 divisions were mostly on paper, the tanks were either broken or cannibalized for parts for the tiny fraction that could work and the scenario for the advance presupposed that the Soviets had the logistical capacity (they didn't) and could sustain a rate of advance greater than Zhukov's unopposed advance into Manchuria between August 12th and 15th, 1945.)

        2. The Chinese navy is a joke. We have eight carrier battlegroups. How many does the entire rest of the world have?

    2. My God you are a Real American!

      I salute you.

    3. A ven(n?) diagram is a graphical representation of two sets noted for their union, i.e. overlapping values.

  5. Stockman reportedly told Reagan in 1981 that the Pentagon could be cut 25% without losing one iota of military preparedness. Cuts never happened.

    Maybe the bi-partisan approach is for fiscal conseravtives to agree to $X in military spending cuts if liberals agree to cut $X in education, energy and other mostly useless dept. stuff.

    1. In my lifetime, the bipartisan approach is to balance increases, not cuts.

  6. No, but they will do their best to criminalize abortion, get intelligent design taught in public schools, and give massive tax breaks to the rich. What a crew!

    1. Maybe if we re-define war deaths as late term abortions the GOP will oppose war more?

      1. What's the correlation for team blue?

        1. Pro-(school) choice?

          1. I meant in your specific example. Usually when someone characiturizes the opposition it illuminates something about their own thinking.

      2. I look forward to Raytheon developing a nightvision coat hanger w/ V-shaped hull.

  7. Against defense spending cuts, the article points to a platoon of conservative heavyweights: AEI, The Heritage Foundation, the Foreign Policy Initiative, Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio, and the folks behind the GOP's recent Pledge to America.

    The Dems didn't do it, the GOP won't.
    Third party or leave the slot blank.

    1. Iirc the last time any significant cuts to the military budget were proposed (made?) the President had a D beside his name (and an intern under his desk).

      1. Yeah, the end of that pesky Cold War had nothing to do with it. If you haven't done so today, people, remember to thank a Democrat.

      2. (or the Russians. I get my socialists mixed up.)

      3. And the Congress had GOP leadership.

        Glad to know you're supporting the GOP in the midterms, MNG. Gridlock FTW.

      4. Off by two years. My brother and thousands of servicemen like him were encouraged to muster out through incentives in '91.

        1. Yes, Bush Sr. did cut military spending. That may be a surprise to some.

      5. ""Iirc the last time any significant cuts to the military budget were proposed (made?) the President had a D beside his name (and an intern under his desk).""

        And the Rs were faulting him for it too.

  8. Will Republicans Cut Military Spending?

    As a karate expert, I'm thinking the answer is probably no.

    1. The Pentagon rent is TOO DAMN HIGH!

    2. Will Republicans Cut Military Spending?

      I'll answer your question with a question: Will donkeys fly out of your butt?

  9. Knee slapper head line of the day:

    Will Republicans Cut Military Spending?

    Thanks, Pete.

  10. Defending the country is a federal responsibility, therefore I don't automatically call for lower military budgets. I'm less concern about the military budget total and more concerned about where we send military personal. An ordered list of which countries we should pull our military personal out of would be more helpful than a list of proposed budget cuts.

    1. Uh, if we pull troops from countries, what do we need to keep them on as soldiers for? How will that save any money if we just house hundreds of thousands of soldiers here instead of overseas? Shit, that's even more of a welfare program, because the bases become welfare for the community that houses them.

      1. The last thing we need is a bailout for prostitutes.

        1. Then why is Eliot Spitzer still employed?

          1. I have a serious question: Does Spitzer continue to employ the services of professional women? More discretely, of course. Or maybe not.

            1. Given how much support the Dems still have in New York, I'd say he doesn't need to.

              1. He didn't need to when he was attorney general or governor, either. He has an attractive wife and, undoubtedly, access to political groupies, too, the slut.

                Immoral, unethical, and power-mad. What's there not to like?

                1. Rich...don't forget rich.

                2. Needs aren't the same as wants, though.

      2. We ship them to the off-world colonies. A new life awaits them in the off-world colonies

      3. I thought it was obvious that we would lower military staff levels once we pulled out of our foreign bases. We could do this by reducing recruitment. That would bring the cost savings you want. Anyway, Episiarch et al, I'm surprised that the prospect of getting our military personal out of harms way and eliminating reasons for non-Americans to be upset at us didn't spark any enthusiasm in you.

    2. How about cutting all (or at least many/most) overseas bases and the soliders that work there, and not cutting domestic ones at all?

      I still don't see why we are defending places like South Korea and Japan-rich countries that can afford their own damned armies. South Korean and Japanese taxpayers should be paying for their defense, not American ones.

      1. I agree, for the most part, but there is an argument that the reason we do all of this overseas nonsense is that we don't trust the Asians and Europeans not to start another massive war that we'll get dragged into. It's interesting that the "American cowboys" are driving force behind the Pax Americana.

        1. Fascinating, as we've happily started our own share of wars. "Pax Americana" is just a code-phrase for the "Imperium Americana".

        2. You bring up a valid concern Pro Libertate. The risk should not be too great if we close the bases over the course of a decade. A 10% cut in staff each year for 10 years would work well.

      2. I second that plan, Geotpf.

  11. Germany needs our protection!

    And, if not for our bases, who would angry Japanese and Koreans riot against?

  12. No, Republicans will not cut the defense budget significantly. They need to, and should, but it won't happen. Too many embedded interests and too few politicians with the intestinal fortitude to do it.

  13. What we really need is "Operation Iranian Freedom", financed by China.

    All in favor raise your remaining limb.

    1. We're more likely to get "Operation Japanese Freedom" funded by the interest we pay on the bank bailout and Obama's stimulus package.


  14. Does this question assume the private sector is done contracting and employment has stabilized?

  15. I suspect the military will be cut long term, but for the wrong reason.

    It is relatively easy to cut the DoD in comparison to Social Security, Medicare/Medicade, and other entitlement programs.

    As such, it is likely the DoD will take a significant cut before those programs will. Even though it is the entitlement programs that are the real issue regarding long term solvency for the US.

    That said, a cut above 25-50% seems unlikely over the long term.

    1. A cut above 2.5/5% seems unlikely over the long term.

  16. I think any serious budget cuts are going to have to be a Grand Bargain - deep cuts to the military, the welfare state, and the regulatory state.

    Unfortunately, Grand Bargains require at least a few statesmen, which seem in unusually short supply these days.

    I think the odds of real cuts to the federal budget absent a genuine, no-getting-around-it-with-smoke-and-mirrors crisis, is about 10%.

    1. Schumer.
      Sounds like our leadership for the next couple of years. Real statesmen there, no?

      1. I'm scared.

  17. We need WAR. TOTAL WAR. Only TOTAL War will break the socialist stupor of this country. We need a DRAFT. Boys need to get blown up and come home in bags. WAR saved this nation once and will save it again.

    In GOD we trust.

  18. One efficient way to reduce overall military spending-dramatically reduce the number of females in the services.

    Female servicemembers are more likely to suffer stress fractures than males, use a disproportionately high amount of military health care, are less likely to leave service before the end of their initial enlistment, are uniquely likely to miss time due to pregnancy and are even more expensive to recruit.

    None of that is to say that individual females are not outstanding at what they do or that there are certain roles that only females can fulfill which are advantageous militarily, but it really can't be argued that females aren't more expensive, on average, than their male counterparts.

    Of sourse, proposals to reduce the number of female servicemembers as a cost-sutting measure would doubtlessly result in howls of outrage (and I'm certain that there would be many here on Reason who would join in those howls).

    1. I got an idea-an all gay army! Fewer dependents to insure, no maternity leave, no base housing tracts needed, the barracks will be nice and clean and color cordinated, and new uniforms every season!

      1. Well the Spartans would certainly agree, but I doubt if you would get away with putting gay soldiers up in housing that was less than "fabulous" (and frankly what we have now is rather drab) so that part of your proposal seems less likely to save money.

        1. Excellent response. Regardless of DODT views.

          I loled would do business again A++

          1. hmm-thanks. Since you brought it up I want to make one DADT point. I think that a big part of the reason that Congress (controlled by the Democrats IIRC) created that policy is that they wanted to do something for homosexuals, but that they didn't want to do anything to establish some sort of federal recognition of gay partnerships (as they would have had to do via things like access to family housing or the higher "with dependents" pay for housing allowance). So they essentially said "look, we won't let the military ask about it during the recruiting process, but you guys have to shut up about it as well."

            Of course, that ended up pleasing almost nobody, but I wonder if some of that is what is cuasing hesitation on the part of the current administration and Congress to do away with the policy.

    2. Edit-should say "...are MORE (not less) likely to leave service before then end of their initial enlistment..."

  19. Will Republicans Cut Military Spending?

    That's a negative Ghostrider. The pattern is full.

    1. Bad analogy. Ghostrider did the flyby anyway.

      To extend your analogy - with the Republicans at the stick, that cup of coffee you're holding is safe.

  20. We don't have the political willpower to make ANY of the necessary cuts to the budget, at least not any of a magnitude to have a significant impact on our fiscal situation.

    We're on the express train to fiscal crisis hell with the only difference being where the throttles are set...

    1. What you mean "we" kemo-sabe,?

  21. Get rid of the Defense Department

    Bring back the War and Navy Departments

    The War Department would consist of the Army and the Airforce and would be prohibited from going overseas without a declaration of war.

    The Navy Department would consist of the Navy and Marines and the Marines would be reduced back to being ship, base and embassy guards and would no longer be a second army.

    1. And fighting pirates.

    2. DJF-remember the old saying "the Navy belongs to the President and the Army belongs to Congress"? The idea behind it was that the Presidnet could send the Navy to trouble spots as he pleased (since when they are at sea thay are essentially deployed and ready for combat), but that the Navy could only get into as much trouble as proximity to the ocean would allow, while deploying the Army was a much more serious and involved matter and should require Congress to take action (IOW declare war) before it was commited.

      Part of the idea was that the Navy could be in action without us "being at war", but that commiting the Army was substantially more serious. Of course, an expanded role for the Marine Corps, the advent of Naval aviation and Congress' retreat from its role in authorizing combat has changed all of that.

      FWIW, I think it might also be useful to consider folding the Air Force back into the Army Air Corps.

      1. FWIW, I think it might also be useful to consider folding the Air Force back into the Army Air Corps.

        I think you are right about that. My little cousin was injured in Afghanistan little over a month ago by a mortar attack that burned his neck and shoulder. Not severe enough to take him out of the theatre though. He is an Air Force MP essentially doing Army functions. Might as well make it official so recruits wont get the wrong idea they join it they avoid combat.

        1. Who the fuck joins the military to avoid combat?!?!?

          1. People paying for college who were gambling on never going to war?

  22. Will Republicans Cut Military Spending?

    Uh, no.

    You might as well have asked whether Christians would leave me the fuck alone about Jesus.

  23. Republicans love war. Why would they ever cut war spending?

  24. Defense is a tiny part of the fiscal shortfall. This is just a canard to avoid discussing cutting the Sacred Cows.

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