National Defense

"Republicans Are Endangering National Security." By Which We Mean Uncontrolled Defense Spending.

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Here's former Defense Secretary William Cohen—a former GOP senator from Maine who served in Bill Clinton's cabinet—tossing a big smoke grenade in the New York Times to provide cover for a new push for increased defense spending:

I have long been concerned that my party's rigid antitax ideology is harming the fiscal health of our nation. Now it is harming our national security as well, as cuts in defense spending on a calamitous scale are about to be triggered. Congressional Republicans need to look back at this sad episode and decide: Do they care more about keeping "a no tax pledge" or giving our troops the tools they need to protect the nation?

Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta is already cutting deeply into the Pentagon's budget, reducing spending by $465 billion over the coming decade. He has indicated that he plans to cut areas once considered untouchable, like military medical and retirement benefits. Savings might also be found in commissaries and exchanges, tuition assistance and duplicative family-support programs….

The Navy is likely to mothball 60 ships, including two carrier battle groups — a possibility that led Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, the chief of naval operations, to testify that the cuts could "impact the fleet for 20 to 50 years." The Air Force might have to give up one-third of its fighters and a quarter of its long-range bombers, calling into question our nuclear deterrent. The Air Force chief of staff, Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, testified that the Air Force "may not be able to overcome dire consequences." And the Army is likely to have to give up nearly a third of its Army Maneuver Battalions — which is why the Army chief of staff, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, has warned that the cuts would leave us with "an unacceptable level of strategic and operational risk." The cuts would also decimate the Marine Corps, leaving it "below the end strength level that's necessary to support even one major contingency," the service's commandant, Gen. James F. Amos, has warned.

Whole bit here.

Where do you start with something like this? Because the super committee failed in its mission to generate plan to cut $1.2 trillion in spending over the next decade, the automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts that go into effect beginning in 2013 will be really bad for the military, argues Cohen. Exactly how anti-tax ideology figures into any of this is unclear, since Cohen could have argued just as easily that Democrats' unwillingness to offer spending cuts created the committee's impasse.

Defense Secretary Panetta "might" find savings in commissaries and "duplicative" programs? Well have at it already! Nothing's stopping you. Has a decade-plus of elective wars done anything to degrade our defense capabilities? Cohen's not saying.

But let's focus in on the former secretary's completely phony notion that the Defense budget is in any way threatened by "cuts." Most of us would take this to mean that you spend less money on something from year to year. That isn't what's happening.

Here's a chart created by Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy that shows the effect of the sequester cuts on spending over the next decade.

The numbers here come from the Congressional Budget Office's August update of the budget baseline. Assuming the sequester cuts actually kick in 2013, what you see is a 16 percent increase in defense spending over the next decade. An increase, not a cut. And, lest we forget, that 16 percent increase will come on top of a 71 percent increase (in real, inflation-adjusted dollars; see figure 5) between 2001 and 2010. According to CBO, annual budgets are going nowhere but up whether the sequester kicks in or not.

If Cohen's bleating about the U.S. military being hollowed out sounds familiar, it's because he's simply following the same script as right-wing groups such as the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute, who have equated any spending restraint on defense with cheaping out on the "price of greatness." What Cohen's piece thus reveals is not a dire emergency for national defense but just exactly how the military-industrial complex works: We've always got to be spending tons more on defense. Spending less that we can imagine is exactly the sort of cut that will leave us vulnerable to any enemy you can imagine and is just unpatriotic.

Take it away, Ike (who knew war and defense as well as anyone alive today):

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  1. Bring on the ‘calamitous’ cuts.

    1. Cutastrophe!

      1. Cutopolis!

  2. This dude must hang out with Frum.

    1. And he probably actually believes that a few saudis with box cutters did the deed.

      1. Let me guess, Lincoln was somehow behind the 9-11 attacks?

        1. Don’t slight him – he can stand toe to toe with any of history’s mass murderers.

          1. Don’t slight him – he can stand toe to toe with any of history’s mass murderers.

            Sorry, old bean, he’s got a ways to go before he catches up with us.

          2. Standing toe to toe isn’t hard.

            I think you mean “shoulder to shoulder”, not that I’d agree with that either.

      2. And you believe…what?

        1. That anybody who buys the conspiracy theory peddled by the government of the ussa and the likes of Faux news, bill o’reilly et al are bat shit insane stupid.

          1. That tells me nothing. What do YOU think happened? Truther nuttery is a cheap entertainment.

        2. Don’t encourage it.

          1. I’m bored and on my way to drunk. Why not?

            1. I believe that you know that you can not contradict the proposition that you can not prove beyond a reasonable doubt to an impartial tribunal of anarcho-free enterprise-individualists that Mohammed Atta and crew masterminded and executed 9/11 alone without any help from Kristatos or Drax or Hector Gonzalez.

              1. I will count that as nonresponsive. Good job you truther fuck.

              2. Kristatos. Wasn’t he the Bond villan in “For Your Eyes Only”? I totally believe he would take down the WTCs

  3. I just read that steaming pile of shit.

    Stick it up your ass, Cohen.

  4. The Navy is likely to mothball 60 ships, including two carrier battle groups

    Oh noes; the Spanish Armada will kick our ass!

    1. If we can bring a couple of 1940-era battleships out of mothballs successfully, we can do the same with these if/when we need them.

      1. Before the Chinaman marches across the Pacific? With Union labor?

        1. fap fap fap fap

        2. You mean with their ONE carrier…that they bought used from the Ukraine?

  5. The Air Force might have to give up one-third of its fighters and a quarter of its long-range bombers, calling into question our nuclear deterrent.

    Does anyone seriously believe those levels of reductions would have an effect on our nuclear deterrent? Nevermind the 3/4 of the bombers that will remain, the subs, the cruise missles and the ICBMs… jesus…

    1. Nuclear deterrent equals just another variation on the ole false premise upon which to enslave the sheople.

    2. Does anyone seriously believe those levels of reductions would have an effect on our nuclear deterrent?

      They would critically diminish our ability to keep Iran from obtaining a nuc, ah, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    3. Not to mention that we’ve been flying the wings off of them for the last 10 years, which means those reductions would likely have come anyway.

      In some cases, they’ve gone WAY beyond their service life, and sooner or later you get to a point of diminishing returns on performance if they just end up being a bunch of hangar queens.

    4. It is interesting that the same people who think the world will end if Iran gets 1 nuke think that we’ll be helpless if we only have a few thousand.

      1. Really? I don’t think that they’re the same people.

        There are a bunch of centrist DC types that downplay Iran’s chances of getting a nuke and don’t think it would be a big deal, but think that we need tons of defense spending because… because. It’s stimulus, or something.

  6. Assuming the sequester cuts actually kick in 2013, what you see is a 16 percent increase in defense spending over the next decade.

    I’ll go out on a limb here and predict that the sequester cuts will not actually kick in 2013 or in any other year. We may get some sort(s) of cuts, but they won’t be the sequester cuts.

    1. How ya’ doin’?

      1. Anthony? Anthony Weiner?

  7. When these shills use the word defense, they are not talking about protecting the borders of the United States from enemies abroad. They are talking about maintaining our global empire.

    1. When these shills use the word defense, they are not talking about protecting the borders of the United States from enemies abroad. They are talking about maintaining defending our global empire.

      FTFY

    2. Be scared people!…tune in for more “programming” and you can view bipartisian agreement from Anderson Cooper and Fox news that we need to invade Iran and have hundreds of thousands of troops in Korea and Germany.

      Problem reaction solution bitches…OBEY! pay your taxes…take out more student loans!

      1. have hundreds of thousands of troops in Korea and Germany.

        Rumsfield actually tried to take a bunch of troops out of Korean and Germany. Plenty of Democrats that don’t want to fight wars screamed at that, because they at least wanted the armed services to be ambassadors and useful gov’t spending and so forth.

    3. We don’t have a global empire. That would imply some sort of organized pattern of conquest, but unfortunately the reality is we just fuck up random countries and then sit back and hope the survivors work things out.

      1. If only America had ‘sat back’ in Iraq and Afghanistan after the initial liberation. Would’ve been a lot cheaper.

      2. Even the Romans thought the idea of empire had an ugly tinge of Eastern despotism to it.

    4. It’s not empire, it’s the trough of tax money they are defending.

  8. I wish a less oratorically challenged Ron Paul would ask Newt, Mitt, Herm, Michelle and the Ricks in a debate if they knew why Eisenhower warned about the military industrial complex.

    1. Yeah, I’d love to hear the average GOP candidate try to spin that statement.

      1. “Ike was a great general and president, but he didn’t experience 9/11. If he had lived today he would approve of exactly what [insert candidate name here] plans to do.”

        They’ve already thrown the Founders under the bus in this manner (re: civil rights vs. Patriot Act etc), so Ike should be comparatively easy.

        1. Everybody knows 9/11 changed everything.

        2. If nothing else, it changed my shorts.

  9. What’s the matter with you unpatriotic jackholes, don’t you care about NATIONAL GREATNESS? Are you willing to risk allowing Iran, with it’s vast, technologically superior military, to establish the GLOBAL CALIPHATE?!

    1. You’re surprisingly good at that, Jim.

      “Listen, when we dock, I’m gettin’ a tattoo of an anaconda that’s coming outta my groin region! It’s gonna say Bad Ass…in ancient script. Like Egyptian, maybe.”

      1. I just finished reading the early morning post from Shikha, and some of the comments in there…just un-fucking-believable.

        Apparently our feeling safe is vastly more important than the lives or rights of smelly foreign people. I’m astonished that so many so-called rugged invidiualists adopt the completely communistic assumption that somehow since we fell out of a vag on the same side of an imaginary line, we’re all some big tribe who are justified in shitting on anyone and everyone in order to further “our” interests.

        Hey, fuckheads: there IS NO “OUR” INTERESTS! MY INTERESTS INCLUDE BANGING MY WIFE, AND POSSIBLY OTHER WOMEN IF SHE’S OK WITH IT, AND COLLECTING VARIOUS NERDY THINGS! THE IRANIANS ARE NOT INTERFEREING WITH THESE PERSUITS…that I know of.

        1. *doh* I pulled a John.

          Pursuits.

          1. And you might want to check on “interfering”

        2. “”Apparently our feeling safe is vastly more important than the lives or rights of smelly foreign people.””

          The P.A.T.R.I.O.T. Act. TSA, and DHS, and the majority of the citizenry sez feeling safe more important than the rights of Americans. Regardless of smell.

  10. I have long been concerned that my party’s rigid antitax ideology is harming the fiscal health of our nation.

    Concern troll is concerned.

  11. The Washington Journal on cspan read a tweet of mine this morning contending that cutting defense spending will make us a stronger nation. That fraud could be spent honestly in the private sector. I don’t see how a broke nation can stay a superpower for long.

    1. Greece will rise again!

  12. “”the automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts that go into effect beginning in 2013″”

    While partisanship may have prevented the superdupercommittee from making cuts. Bi-partisanship will undo those cuts by 2013.

  13. Because the super committee failed in its mission
    —————–
    Wrong but only in the context as written. The super-committee was set up to fail and, as such, accomplished its mission quite nicely. The campaigner in chief can piss and moan about how mean old Repubs are stopping him from all the good and great things TheOne wishes to do.

    It’s one more case of activity disguised as action, putting forth any actual work until AFTER the election. Kinda like the TransCanada decision. Never mind that big govt liberalism is a global failure; US liberals are that much smarter than all the other lefties.

    1. Plus the Republicans got to continue to increase spending, while appearing to be Real Hard Asses(TM). So everybody wins.

  14. Is no one live blogging the debate? It’s because it’s CNN, isn’t it?

  15. Wolf Blitzer just declared this to be a debate LIKE NO OTHER BEFORE IT.

  16. Rick Perry just finger banged Wolf Blitzer. Pass it on.

    1. HE played a CD of Cartman’s boy band?

  17. HOLY HELL, did Perry prepare his statement in advance at all?

  18. This just in: Bachmann’s family hates the Marines.

  19. Ed Meese: Are each of you patriotic enough to love the Patriot Act?

  20. Welch, you dick. Sneaking a dedicated thread in there at the last minute.

    Fine.

  21. Defense spending is one thing. Offense spending is another. Most of the Money has gone towards the latter. Withdrawing from Iraq and Afghanistan should be enough. What about charging those Middle East Countries for Protection? What about all those Large US corps whose economic inerests that we protect who keep their profits overseas? Who benefited the most from the last two wars? Prior to the Iraq war George Bush was envolved in the Carlisle Group. What did they invest in? Defense!

  22. You guys hate freedom and love cameels and goats

  23. Radical cave dwellers hate our guts and they hate nice peaceful israel too. They will kill us if they can and destroy Wall Street from their caves while munching on camel nuts + sheep entrails. Ragheads threaten our freedom and it costs trillions in military prowess every year. FOUR MORE YEARS!

  24. Kill ’em all! Let Leon Panetta and Bibi sort ’em out!

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