When I saw Leon Panetta’s impassioned plea not to imperil our security or the military with draconian cuts, I figured it was a ruse. He’s a liberal budget cutter. Obama would love the chance to gut the military further. Turns out I’m not the only one who thinks Panetta is playing games. James Carafano at the Heritage Foundation blog:
According to news reports, “Pentagon chief Leon Panetta vowed Wednesday to fight any across-the-board cuts to defense spending that could be triggered in the next phase of deficit reduction that he says could do ‘real damage to our security, our troops and their families, and our ability to protect the nation.” That makes him a hero at the Pentagon, right? And, it puts him on record as bucking his own President, who has long talked about putting big defense cuts “on the table,” right?
Probably not. The flimflam man calls this the old “bait and switch” bit. The President has tried to outflank conservatives in the deficit debate by framing the choice as “big defense cuts” or “big tax increases,” knowing that conservatives hate both. Indeed, of late more and more conservative leaders in the Congress have come online waving red flags that the proposed cuts are just nuts. More than likely, rather than echoing their concern, Panetta is trying to turn up the heat, forcing conservatives to cave on big tax hikes or take the blame for massive defense cuts.
Read the rest. Carafano predicts Panetta will play both sides of the street to exact as much blood from defense hawks as possible. I’m not shocked by anything at this point after reading the radical proposal on the board to “restructure” retirement benefits to troops who have served for the past 10 years of war. Screw your soldiers who have fought and bled for the country. Keep those entitlements for folks who sit on their asses and collect their Obama money checks and feed the hipsters who use food stamps to pay for organic wild salmon at Whole Foods. Pretty soon we will have a draft again because no one in his right mind would stand up to defend such nonsense.
Max Boot with a dose of reality:
Moreover, comparing defense spending today with spending during earlier decades–say, during the Korean War–is not a fair comparison. Until 1973 we had a draft, which meant personnel costs were relatively low. Since we went to an all-volunteer force, the government had to start paying competitive wages and benefits to attract and keep qualified recruits. The Defense Department benefits–medical care, schooling, etc.– that Zakaria decries as “liberalism run amok” are nothing of the kind. They are better understood as the kind of corporate benefits package offered to employees in lieu of a straight salary. Those benefits are not an entitlement; they are earned by men and women who risk their lives in our defense. Which is what makes these compensation packages so difficult to cut. Congress naturally feels a sense of gratitude to veterans and wants to reward them for their heroic service. The Defense Department is also keenly aware of the need to keep up the quality of its service people. Both concerns argue against drastic cuts in pay and benefits packages.
We retain the best troops because the military takes care of families while the troops are away. They can’t leave their families and fight if they worry about what’s going to happen at home.
The parsimonious Eisenhower defense budgets of the 1950s left us overly reliant on a nuclear deterrent (the “New Look”) and ill-prepared to fight low-intensity conflicts such as the one in Vietnam. The cutbacks of the 1970s produced a “hollow army” and encouraged our adversaries’ aggression—this was the time of the Iranian hostage crisis, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and the Sandinistas’ triumph on Nicaragua. Later, the rush to spend the “peace dividend” in the 1990s left us ill-prepared to fight the post-9/11 wars: It’s impossible to send enough troops to pacify both Afghanistan and Iraq when the size of the active-duty army has been reduced by a third.
Simply because something has happened in the past doesn’t mean it’s a good idea for the future. And if history shows anything, it is there are few ideas worse than cutting defense spending precipitously. What is likely to happen as a result is we will not be ready for some unexpected crisis. While we slowly build up our resources, we will suffer needless defeats and our troops will spill needless blood—as we have in wars ranging from the Civil War to World War II, Korea and most recently, Iraq.
What say you? Tina Korbe at Hot Air points out the obvious discrepancy between the defense budget and entitlements and why we should be wary of tit-for-tat cuts [emphasis mine]:
In 2010, the defense budget was just $712 billion. Compare that to the unfunded liability of Medicare: $30.8 trillion. Because domestic spending is proportionally larger than defense spending, equivalent cuts will disproportionately hurt defense (and don’t buy the business about cuts to “security” rather than “defense” — the Defense Department will bear the brunt).
Proportionate cuts. Laughable. They’ll bring the active-duty military to its knees while arguing that the National Guard and Reserve forces will be enough in case of war. It won’t. And we’ll be saddled with an aging welfare state with no means to defend ourselves. I guess at that point there won’t be much to defend, eh?
Ah, now it makes sense: “radical” overhaul of military retirements necessary due to downsizing the force
So “paying the military and their families for 60 years when they only serve 20″ is unsustainable, eh?
DOD recommends “radical” overhaul of miliary retirement
The military can take substantial cuts but entitlements can’t?
Filed under: American History, budget, Military, Military families, Obama | 4 Comments »