One Thing We Can Apparently Always Afford: The Most Expensive Military in Creation


Joshua Green at Atlantic sees in Obama's amazingly military-friendly budget plans the death of all momentum for military cuts, cross-party:

One surprise in the president's budget is how lightly the axe falls on military expenditures….the big winner unquestionably is Defense Secretary Robert Gates, whose budget is being trimmed by only $78 billion over a decade.

….there seemed to be quite a bit of momentum in both parties to finally cut the military budget, which has grown enormously in the last decade. Traditionally, Democrats are frightened of proposing cuts because they fear being portrayed as weak, while Republicans don't want to propose them because they favor a large military, deficits be damned. Both those attitudes have showed signs of changing. Last summer, Reps. Barney Frank and Ron Paul led a bipartisan effort to push for cuts….Some Republicans, too, appeared open to the idea. Majority Leader Eric Cantor indicated a willingness to consider military cuts, and several Tea Party groups, including the Tea Party Patriots and FreedomWorks, have also embraced the idea…

That now seems unlikely. It's hard to believe that the Republican leadership will go further than the White House in proposing cuts to military spending, so whatever negotiations take place are likely to involve relatively paltry sums….

Sad but likely true, but, keep your eye on the Pauls. Past Reason blogging from Peter Suderman on the possibilities of Republican-supported military cuts here and here. I argued for military cuts in our huge "how to slash the state" cover feature from Reason magazine's November 2010 issue.

NEXT: The Real Problem With ObamaCare? The Advertising Budget Is Just Too Dang Small.

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  1. First cut the US world wide defense commitments and then cut the defense budget. Cutting defense spending without cutting the defense commitments is like writing checks with no money in the bank.

    But cutting defense commitments is the last thing Washington wants to do since they love rattling sabers and being the “worlds only superpower”

  2. Iagree with DJF.

    The reason Obama is not cutting the military budget – it’s the civilian side of the DOD that has really bloated and he hates the idea of firing federal employees.

    Procurement is totally busted but nobody wants to fix it because it’s spread around to every Congressional district possible.

    1. That, and he knows that in order to get military cuts, there will have to be equal or greater cuts in other areas. He REALLY doesn’t want that.

  3. Procurement is totally busted but nobody wants to fix it because it’s spread around to every Congressional district possible.

    Somebody has to manufacture screendoors for all of those submarines, right?

    1. I’m glad someone is as concerned as I am about Delaware’s vital screendoor industry.

  4. I salute and support the Pauls whole-heartedly in their efforts to thwart the fiscal insanity of both parties, but isn’t it really depressing that on a whole host of issues, the only people willing to take the lead on advocating for common-sense, responsibility and freedom are surnamed ‘Paul’?

    Sure, Amash and Mike Lee and a few others on up there too, but c’mon people. They can’t do it alone!

  5. How the hell is Gates the “big winner” in this? He’s been trying to get a whole bunch of new weapons systems slashed for years, and the various military branches and their allies in Congress have been cock-blocking him to the greatest extent possible.

    Just look at the Marines–Gates wants to cancel the new amphibious assault vehicle they’ve been developing for years, with no end in sight for combat readiness, and they’re running the exact same playbook they employed in keeping the V-22 Osprey program going when Darth Cheney tried to kill it.

    1. On the one hand, yes, you’re right, Gates has actually tried to cut a lot of programs and is better on spending on them than most of Congress.

      OTOH, he probably would prefer to redirect most of that money to other priorities, rather than actually having a net spending cut at DoD.

    2. I saw like every operable Osprey flying in formation out of Cherry Point a few years back. That’s one pretty cool way to waste my tax dollars. I’d like to see the USDA defunded and abolished first.

    3. Yeah, let’s look at the Marines.

      Is there even any remaining need to storm beachheads? Anymore, we soften everything up from above, send in a combat CE team to repair the damage we did to the airfields, and airlift in the Army.

      Eliminate the entire service. Okay, keep a few Marine Bands around for ceremonial/nostalgic purposes but roll the rest of ’em into the Army. That oughta’ save a few bucks.

      1. Truman and his Sec Def were singing that same tune right after WWII. Then they came within an inch of losing the Koran War outright in ’50 because the Army wasn’t prepared. The Marines saved their asses at Pusan then broke the North Koreans with a series of amphibious landings.

        Sure, no more amphibious landings lately, except:
        Haiti (for aid)

        1. Let us not forget the “surge” in Afganistan…maybe not amphibious but certainly a Marine oop.

        2. Outside of Iraq, none of those even qualifies as a “war”. And legally speaking, I’m not Iraq does either. That does not reflect well on our usage of the military.

          1. Jack Handey: “Instead of trying to build newer and bigger weapons of destruction, mankind should be thinking about getting more use out of the weapons we already have.”

            It’d be less sad and more funny if it wasn’t true.

            On the other hand, what’s the alternative? The Framers envisioned a country with no standing armies, but raising an army from scratch was a lot more plausible in a world where civilian transport resembled military transport and civilian weapons were decent military weapons. You don’t even want to let someone go near a jet fighter unless they’re getting enough training to make a career out of it.

        3. When people ask me why the Marine Corps is a “better” service I tell them that Marines know that the country does not need a Marine Corps. It must want one. The Marine Corps has to be better to survive as a service.

          1. The Marine Corps has to have better PR to survive as a service.

    4. He loves the F-35. A multi-billion dollor boondoggle that will replace most current fighter / strike aircraft with one that is more expensive and less capable.

      Boeing will sell far more capable F-15SE “Stealth Eagle” for a fraction of the cost.

  6. President Obama has threatened to veto the tiny spending cuts, yes, including the defense ones, because any defense cuts will have a major impact on our ability to “meet vital military requirements.”

    1. Good grief. This president has to be the most shameless liar we’ve ever had in the office.

      1. No kidding. He’s just flat out lying now, without even bothering to keep his lies consistent.

        Earth to Barack: Read your own budget!

    2. Peace through Drones.

  7. Empire is expensive, people.


  8. I actually saw an interesting thing on a youtube animated clip of a “libertarian vs. tea party”. The TP chick says you have to hero worship and keep up the wars and the spending or you don’t “support the troops”. To which the guy says, “That doesn’t make any sense; I am a veteran, are you saying I don’t support myself?”

    Being a vet AND anti-wars of empire, I’ve never thought to just break it down to people that simply.

    1. FP is the surest way to tell if the tea parties have been co-opted by the machine

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  10. We could probably maintain most of the big bits of American Empire for about a quarter of the size and cost but there is something about expansive foreign policy and profligate spending that seem to go hand in glove.

  11. Republicans could score some real “Nixon to China” points shaving off even tiny bits of the military budget here. It would at least give them some political cover to go after other items.

    The military’s benefits model needs to be completely redone, imho. Give them a 401k instead of pension starting on the first day of retirement, which is usually around age 38. At least make them wait until age 60, like reservists do.

  12. The pauls will fold like cheap suits…just like Rand did last night, not doing anything to stop the patriot act. Are you people really this brain dead? You think he’s gonna do shit but be another conservative? Good luck with that.

    He already folded. Get used to it.

    1. just like Rand did last night, not doing anything to stop the patriot act. Are you people really this brain dead?

      He voted against it, brain dead moron, after objecting to unanimous consent and forcing a vote on it. Apparently failing to launch a coup against the government is “folding” in your dumbass opinion. How stupid can you possibly be? It’s not like one senator has a veto like the President– not that our current President would use the veto against the Patriot Act, when he’s arguing for a three year extension of it, he’s saving his veto threats for any cuts in military spending.

    2. You are such an ignorant moron, because holds don’t work that way. They’re informal, and the Senate Majority Leader can always schedule a vote anyway and force the threatened filibuster.

      It must be terrible to be as ignorant as you are.

      1. I disagree; they say ignorance is bliss. 🙂

      2. Try again clown….they debated the FAA for two weeks in the senate, but got him to AGREE to give unanimous consent to get to a vote after THIRTY MINUTES of debate…he could have held it up forever…but instead he folded like a cheap suit for 30 minutes of running his mouth.

        You people will never learn, will you?

        He could have refused unanimous consent to get to the debate, refused it again to get to the vote, etc, made the senate stop for weeks, forced several votes for cloture, etc – until it actually expired! But, no, he gave in cause he’s a little bitch…

        Come back when you learn how the senate actually operates.

        1. they debated the FAA for two weeks in the senate

          Still don’t know how the Senate actually operates, do you? Otherwise you wouldn’t be comparing a bill with 40+ Senators disagreeing on two major issues with one that, unfortunately, had only one willing to force a vote and only 12 willing to vote against.

          They’ve been debating the FAA because there’s contentious disagreement over the number of slots at DCA as well as the collective bargaining agreement rights of TSA employees. Reid had to try to fashion together a sufficient majority on those issues.

          The funding issue with the FAA, by contrast, was disposed of quickly, unfortunately.

          The Senate Majority Leader has enormous ability to schedule votes. Reid didn’t schedule a vote on the FAA bill for weeks because it wasn’t clear what the Senators supported on those two issues. In the case of the Patriot Act, the result was unfortunately obvious.

          You somehow think that 1, 10, and 45 Senators all have the same amount of power to slow down the chamber. Simply not true, you poor ignorant bastard.

    3. “On the Senate floor Tuesday evening, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who had already announced his opposition to extending the Patriot Act provisions, denounced the law as an infringement of civil liberties.
      “Now we have essentially government agents, akin to soldiers, writing warrants; it’s ripe for abuse,” said Paul,..”

      So you can’t read either? Or were you thinking he needed to toss an explosive.
      What a dumb shit.

  13. Perhaps a bit off topic, but in the corporate world I have come across my fair share of MBA smarty pants who believe that the companies problems will be solved by going CMM level 5. Then some of them mention how the US army is a level 5 organisation and how efficient it is, the problem is that is not. One hears endless stories of waste and corruption and incompetence.

    1. You are blurring the civilian and military side of Defense. There is a big difference between the two.

      1. You sure? I see waste and corruption from both sides.

    2. Yeah, and six sigma, lean, TQM, and every other consultant bullshit proposal to solve all of your problems works too.

      CMM Level 5 is just another way for consultants to leech money out of an organization.

      1. When I was in the Navy, we called it TQL, since we weren’t managers, we were leaders, damit! Nobody noticed the contradiction between its teachings and what we called it.

  14. Why does Brian hate America?

  15. Is there even any remaining need to storm beachheads?

    The Marines are by far the most functional war-fighting division of the armed services. They are sized and trained for the kind of war-fighting we actually do these days – smaller units, operating independently and aggressively.

    The Army, by contrast, is sized and trained to fight massive land wars and occupy conquered nations. That, my friends, is the outdated paradigm.

    1. “The Marines are by far the most functional war-fighting division of the armed services. …The Army, by contrast, is sized and trained to fight massive land wars and occupy conquered nations.”

      OK, I don’t have a choice; let ’em flip a coin. One goes.

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