Your Opinion: Budget cuts and the military
Thursday, February 24, 2011
A recent letter from Charles Schroeder in the News Tribune contained a number of ideas he said would help America. One of his ideas was to increase the military budget because it would provide jobs and income. I wondered if he really understood how much we already spend on national security issues.
Today we spend the most on the military of any country in the world. The Office of Management and Budget tells us that in 2010 the U.S. spent over $1 trillion on national security issues. This is more than the next 12 countries with significant military budgets.
Every dollar spent on the military is a dollar that is not spent on the social good of a country. Money for weapons systems and intelligence is money not spent on upgrading our electrical grid, public transportation and highways or our education systems. Money is limited. Classical economics calls this a “guns or butter” issue.
When our country is threatened military expenditures are vital to survival. Yet any analyst of our military expenditures would tell you we spend hundreds of billions every year for items that have little to do with national security.
Do we really need 800 bases around the globe? Do we need to spend billions on poorly designed tactical fighters when there is no believable threat from any other country at this time which would call for such weapons? Do we need to redesign our nuclear arsenal when we have thousands of perfectly usable nuclear weapons in our stockpile?
Our national debt is said to be $1.1 trillion over budget in the coming year. There is a lot of news from the administration and the Republican opposition about cuts to spending. All cuts come from the so-called discretionary spending such as education, Medicare and unemployment benefits. These discretionary parts of the budget are only 12 percent of the budget and represents just over $400 billion. There is no way to erase the deficit by concentrating cuts only on 12 percent of the budget.
Republicans like Rand Paul join Democrats like Dennis Kucinich saying the military budget should be cut substantially.
I am sorry Mr. Schroeder. Really cut the military budget, stop the wars or raise taxes. What else is left?