The New Congress Should Include Military Spending in Deficit Reduction

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The prospect of balancing the federal budget forces choice, threatening political truces that luxury bought. It makes us better accountants, scrutinizing investments, separating needs from wants. It sharpens debate, forcing government agencies and their backers to remind taxpayers what they are buying.

osprey

Thanks to the deficit, military spending cuts are more likely today than at any time in the past decade. The $ 550 billion non-war DoD budget is obvious prey for deficit hawks. It is more than we spent at any time in the Cold War, even adjusting for inflation, though our wealth creation makes it a smaller slice of the economy. It is over a fifth of federal spending, more than half of the discretionary variety, and it roughly doubled in the past decade. With the tea party up in arms about spending and groping for a foreign policy, the right is reconsidering the pass it gives the Pentagon when it laments “big government.” With the pressure on to find savings, the left is worried that entitlements will unduly suffer if military spending does not.

To get the target off his department’s back, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is trying to make it more efficient—shifting $ 10 billion a year in administrative costs into force structure—even as he asks for future budgets that grow faster than inflation. But even if the funds Gates hopes to squeeze out of administration went to deficit reduction instead of weapons, they would cover less than one percent of the deficit. And even that’s a reach. According to the Congressional Research Service, the efficiencies Gates has identified will cover only a fraction of his savings goal.

We can save real money on defense by doing less, rather than doing the same thing better. Judged by the objective it is supposed to serve—the defense of Americans—much of the defense budget is wasted. Our forces defend rich allies, freeing them to spend more on social welfare. The misconception that we can use military occupations to build stable governments out of foreign chaos has swollen the ground forces.

By avoiding the occupation of failed states and reducing commitments to defend healthy ones, we could plan for far fewer wars, allowing cuts to force structure, manpower, procurement spending, and operational costs. The resulting force would be more elite, less strained, and far less expensive

A report we recently released, “Budgetary Savings from Military Restraint,” is an initial attempt to outline this force. It lays out 19 cuts that would save $ 1.2 trillion over ten years. For example, because our strategy makes both conventional and counterinsurgency warfare less likely, we call for a one third cut to the end-strength of the Army and Marine Corps, once the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan end. Advances in strike technology and fewer missions would also allow a reduction of six fighter wing equivalents from the Air Force. Comparable technological advances have greatly increased the effectiveness of naval platforms, and restraint requires fewer of them. That allows the elimination of four carrier battle groups, four expeditionary strike groups, and a commensurate number of ships from the Navy.

Congressmen that want immediate cuts that require less strategic upheaval might find some of our other recommendations more attractive. Here are six such items that are ripe for reduction even under the current strategic posture. These recommendations would save $ 441 billion over ten years:

  1. Nuclear Weapons: We have far more nuclear weapons than deterrence of any adversary requires. We should reduce the number of deployed warheads to 500, eliminating 50 percent of delivery platforms, including the bomber leg of the triad. A total savings of $ 66 billion in the DoD budget and $ 21 billion from the DoE budget.
  2. Cancel the Littoral Combat Ship and develop a less expensive alternative: LCS is now three times its initial price and will perform a mission that cheaper alternatives could handle. We should stop building LCS and instead refurbish 14 Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates, while researching an alternative platform. Net savings are $ 14 billion.
  3. Terminate the V-22 Osprey: The V-22 (shown above) is wildly expensive, has a spotty safety record, and cannot carry enough weight to allow the Marines it drops off to properly defend themselves. That means that its effective range is that of the helicopters that will supply them. Established rotary-wing aircraft—the MH-60 and CH-53—can handle the V-22’s missions. Stopping production and using these alternatives would save $ 15 billion.
  4. Cut the Pentagon civilian workforce: Fewer missions and the smaller force we envision will ultimately require less civilian personnel. Through a hiring freeze, we can gradually cut the ranks of civilian personnel by roughly 30 percent, saving $ 105 billion.
  5. Reduce expenditures on command, support, and infrastructure: DoD estimates 40 percent of the budget is overhead costs. That includes rents, depreciation of equipment, facilities, maintenance, utilities, headquarters staff, IT and other defense-wide support programs. We endorse an aggressive version of Secretary Gates’ efficiency initiative (consolidating the geographic combatant commands, for example), but would give the treasury the balance, saving $ 100 billion over ten years.
  6. Reduce intelligence spending by 15 percent: Adjusting for inflation, intelligence spending has more than doubled since 1998, growing to over $ 80 billion. There is considerable evidence that this growth is excessive, creating organizational confusion and mountains of reports written by contractors and read by almost no one. Cutting 15 percent of this spending would save $ 120 billion.

Big Peace

Tea party power: Boehner to include freshman on House Republican leadership team

November 8, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Hmmm.


Smart move for him. Is it smart for the frosh? In a nod to the strength of their newest constituency, House Republican leaders will grant incoming freshmen more say in the party’s direction than most first-term lawmakers receive. House Republican Leader John Boehner and his No. 2, party Whip Eric Cantor, will notify newly elected […]

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Hot Air » Top Picks

New Congress to Include Two Black Republican Members

November 3, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

From FoxNews:

ff scott west

Two black Republican victories tonight mark the first time African-Americans will represent the GOP in Congress in seven years.

Retired Lt. Colonel Allen West’s win in Florida’s 22nd District and South Carolina State Rep. Tim Scott’s victory in that state’s 1st Congressional District is also the first time two black GOP members will serve in Congress since 1996.

Scott defeated Democrat Ben Frasier in an open contest to replace retiring Republican Rep. Henry Brown to the first black GOP in Congress since former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts retired in 2003.

West defeated incumbent Democratic Rep. Ron Klein shortly after Scott’s victory Tuesday. It was West’s second contest against Klein, losing to the incumbent in 2008.

Watts, elected to office in 1994’s sweeping GOP congressional gains, became the lone black Republican Member when former Congressman Gary Franks of Connecticut lost reelection in 1996, and Watts held the helm for three more terms before deciding not to seek reelection in 2002.

Watts notably did not join the Congressional Black Caucus given its overly Democratic leanings, and he balked at the suggestion among racial peers that he sold out his race. In 1997 the congressman famously denounced black leaders with archaic agendas, dismissing them as “race-hustling poverty pimps” on Fox News’s “Hannity and Colmes.”

An Atlanta native, West served in the Army for 22 years, including tours of duty in both Iraq wars and in Afghanistan. His campaign platform, “Restoring American Exceptionalism,” echoed this election cycle’s popular conservative sentiments of limited government, creating a business-friendly tax environment, and extending the Bush era tax cuts.

Scott hails from South Carolina and served the state in local office for 15 years. Scott’s agenda reflects many of the same views, including strengthening the borders against illegal immigration and focusing our military efforts to defeat violent Jihad.

Both men won tonight despite historically low black participation in the GOP and constant efforts by the left to discredit conservative movements like the Tea Party as racist. But the Republican Party had 14 viable candidates in House races this cycle, and the party intensified its outreach efforts to the black community this cycle.

Read the whole thing here.


Big Government

John Stewart’s ‘Sanity’ Rally to include Code Pink, Anarchists

October 22, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Does the “Million Molotov March” sound sane to you?
American Thinker Blog

Riehl World View: Ballots Don’t Include The Republican In Dallas, Texas

October 20, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Well, Texas is turning out to be a lot more interesting than most people nationwide would have imagined. Being from Texas, and Houston, Texas at that, I’ve been fully expecting a rather bumpy ride through the election season.

Stephen Broden says that his opponent, paragon of funding-her-kid’s-private-school-virtue fame, Eddie Bernice Johnson’s name is the ONLY one on the ballots.

Give to Broden here.

Liberty Pundits Blog

Pleasant Surprise: Networks Include God in Chilean Miners’ Rescue

October 15, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

The world watched as 33 Chilean miners were pulled from a deep Chilean mine after 70 grueling days, and their harrowing rescue was nothing short of miraculous. Several miners credited God with their comfort and rescue, and the media played along nicely.

“I met God, I met the Devil – God won.” This now famous quote, from Mario Sepulveda, the second Chilean miner to be pulled to safety, appeared in the October 13 broadcasts of “CBS Evening News with Katie Couric,” NBC’s “World News Tonight” and also the October 14 broadcast of NBC’s “Today” show.

read more

NewsBusters.org – Exposing Liberal Media Bias

Reid Announces He Will Include DREAM Act in Defense Authorization Bill

September 14, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-UT) office indicated that it will move a defense authorization bill next week that includes a repeal of the military’s Don’t Ask Don’t Tell (DADT) policy. Today, Reid announced at a press conference that the bill will also include the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, or DREAM Act as it is known — an immigration bill that would put undocumented youth who were brought to the U.S. as children on a path to citizenship through completion of higher education or military service:

I think it’s really important that we move forward in this legislation, I tried to work on — I know we can’t do comprehensive immigration reform — I’ve tried to. I’ve tried so very very hard. I tried different iterations of this, but those republicans we had in the last Congress have left us.

The DREAM Act is really important. […] That’s what the DREAM Act is all about: kids who grew up as Americans should be able to get their green cards after they go to college or serve in the military. So these are the two amendments [DADT and DREAM Act] that I’ve told Senator McConnell that I think are essential to the defense authorization bill. I hope they let us move to it.

Watch it:

In the past, Reid has indicated that he would only introduce the DREAM Act if he felt he had the 60 votes to break a filibuster. Reid didn’t indicate today whether he thinks he has those votes or not. However, a leadership aide told Wonk Room, “It’s going to be a battle to get this through no matter what.” Nonetheless, “He [Reid] felt it [DREAM Act] was the right thing to do. Simple as that. That and repeal of DADT,” said the aide.

Republicans have already balked at Reid’s proposal. Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), who introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill 2007, said that including an immigration provision as an amendment to the defense authorization bill “would be a mistake.” “That would not be the right place to consider that. I would not favor doing it there,” said Kyl. Sen. John Thune (R-SD) concurred with Kyl, saying he would “oppose an effort to add the legislation, or any non-military amendments, to the defense bill.” “It’s totally unrelated to the defense authorization bill…Last year they dumped hate crimes onto this. The defense bill ought to be about taking care of our military,” said Thune.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KT) himself also weighed in, stating that Reid has made the defense authorization bill “needlessly controversial.” “I can’t tell you right now how easy it will be to go forward with that bill,” said McConnell.

A study released by the Migration Policy Institute this summer estimated that out of the 2.1 million potential beneficiaries of DREAM Act legislation, 38 percent (825,000 people) would actually obtain permanent legal status due to the bill’s strict requirements.

Wonk Room

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