Recent studies are showing that Americans believe that governmental spending needs to be reduced, and when asked in a survey that was just released this past week, it showed that voters from the two dominate parties support large cuts to the single largest line item in our national budget, the Military budget. The mere fact that the American voters are now seeing the need to cut military spending is causing headaches for a Congress who is now looking for ways to avoid sequestration, the across-the-board cuts that were passed in the budget deal of 2011 that cuts all line items in the National budget by 10% over the next 10 years. To the Department of Defense that amounts to $500 Billion over 10 years or $50 Billion a year starting in 2013. When the sequestration was passed, it was with strong bi-partisan support, but now it seems that at least the Republicans in Congress are getting cold feet, trying to lay blame for the cuts and their potential impact on defense jobs on President Obama.
To be completely honest, representatives from both of the two main parties are not in favor of cutting the budget of the Defense Department. The Military Contractors have a strong lobbying body that brings money to Congressmen's campaign funds, as well as government sponsored jobs, spending and tax dollars to their districts. It has become a cash cow for Congressman, and defense contractors at the expense of the tax payer to the tune of $650 Billion a year, which includes the current war that we find ourselves in. Now it seems Congress has gone to the well too many times and have lost the support of the American voter in this constant tax payer spending for defense. In the survey conducted by the Program for Public Consultation, the Stimson Center and the Center for Public Integrity released last Monday, it found that 80 percent of voters in Democratic districts and 75 percent in Republican districts wanted lower spending on the military.
The survey goes on to point out that the Democratic districts support larger cuts to the military budget than do those in the Republican districts, but surprisingly, those in the Republican districts stated that they would cut the defense spending by 15 percent, which is even higher than what the 10 percent spending cuts that the sequestration calls for. This in itself shows that even self proclaimed Conservative voters are willing to cut the Pentagon budget by nearly $97 billion a year compared to this year's level. Here again, it shows that the American people are keen to cutting spending in the largest segment of our national budget, and willing to take on the responsibility to do so.
Even with strong support from the voters of the two main parties for these spending cuts, there is resistance coming from those who benefit from this spending, Congress and the defense contractors, as well as the Conservative Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney. They are now in the process of doing what they do best, strike fear in the electorate. Fear in the way of threatened job cuts, and they are looking to blame President Obama for these job cuts. During a conference call with GOP congressmen from the area around the Norfolk Naval Base, Romney accused Obama of destroying jobs in the military heavy districts. Jobs that are paid for with our tax dollars. This talking point was then used by Rep. Randy Goode (R-VA) when he stated "He has a huge box of pink slips that he's going to distribute across Virginia." House Majority Leader Eric Cantor made a similar claim in a statement he released last Tuesday. All this fear mongering placed at the feet of the President, even though Congress holds the purse strings according to the Constitution, and the last I looked, these two men are in that very Congress who passed the law calling for the cuts.
Defense contractors who look to see their easy government money being threatened have picked up on the theme, with the Aerospace Industries Association issuing a report last week saying that the defense cuts could cost up to 2 million jobs. I do not see where the defense contractors are talking about lowering profit margins, or cutting executive pay, no talk about cutting costs in operations, or purchasing. Nope, they go right for jobs cuts. Anyone who is in business are regularly challenged to reduce their operational budgets by 10 to 15 percent, and usually are able to cut low hanging fruit right off the top to drive down their budgets, but not those in the defense industry, who have become accustomed to big profits at tax payer expense. One should also note that a 10 percent cut to spending actually represents 2 million government paid for jobs according to the contractors, so just think how many more people are living off of our tax dollars.
The funny thing is, according to the survey, these job loss arguments hold little sway with the voters, even those in the districts where the military and defense industry have a large presence. One of the conclusions to come out of the study by The Program for Public Consultation was "there was no statistical correlation between the level of defense spending in a district and the level of support for defense cuts." Quite possibly the continued demand from Conservatives in Congress to cut spending, and the mere fact that the areas that they have focused on cutting recently have shown to reduce jobs, and have possibly now desensitized the general public to these ramifications, who are now willing to endure the pain of more job losses in the name of spending cuts. Advise to Conservative Congressmen, be careful what you ask for, you may get it, but at what cost to themselves? Seems they are cutting off their nose to spite their face, in this case.
So, who are some of those who are panicking about the looming defense cuts? Well for one, former Chairman and CEO of defense contractor Halliburton Company, Dick Cheney. Last week Mr Cheney spoke in front of Republican lawmakers in a closed door session stating that these defense cuts could have serious impact on the U.S. Military. This of course is a military of a country that is not under any eminent nuclear threat from a Super Power like during the Cold War days. As a matter of fact, there is no threat from any foreign nation against the United States that warrant a military of our size. The real issue is an obvious one, the threat of the loss of free wheeling government spending of tax payer money. This became even more obvious when Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, and Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego, where defense is one of the major industries, both worried aloud at a defense industry event, on how these cuts threaten their cities tax base through job losses. Stanton stated that Arizona stood to lose 50,000 high paying aerospace jobs, while Sanders worried that the cuts would lead to a loss in confidence in the city's economy would go back to where they will need to cut vital services. Fear, fear, fear! Sounds to me like they are saying, "They should sacrifice,not us!"
We continually hear that government spending is out of control by the Conservatives, but yet, here we see Conservatives making the case that government spending is needed, and should continue. This sounds a little hypocritical to me, how about you? For a the last two years we have been seeing one domestic cut after another, all along we are told that we must swallow this bitter pill, but now when it is the Conservatives turn to practice what they preach, they find every reason under the sun to defend this out of control spending.
Even presumptive Republican Presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, is not only defending this wasteful governmental spending, he has proposed to spend $100 billion more, over and above the outrageous amount this country is spending now. It is enough to make one wonder if this Presidential candidate is serious about actually cutting spending, since his record as governor of Massachusetts is not one of debt reduction. It seems that the average American is expected to sacrifice for the good of the nation, but not the Capitalists whose easy government money is now under threat of being reduced. Romney pledged his support for a "military that's second to none" and vowed not to slash the Pentagon's funds. He told the American Legion which published excerpts on Thursday from a recent interview, "I will instead expand our essential weapons programs and our [number of] active-duty personnel. I do these things not so that we have to fight wars, but so that we can prevent wars."
Sounds like Orwellian "Newspeak" to me. Did you notice he does not make an argument as to why we can't prevent wars with unknown enemy nations with $560 billion instead of $650 billion. We are told by the right that we need to have a national budget like that which is reflective of the average American family's, but I don't know anyone who does, or is able to spend half of their income on a home security system, so why does this Presidential candidate think we as a nation can, or need to, and how does spending increases and more active duty personnel reduce the size of the government? Aren't "active duty personnel" just more "Newspeak" for government workers? Just who is he afraid of anyways, and should such a fearful man be the President of the "Home of the Brave"? I am not thinking so, I would rather he say what he means or mean what he says.
One issue that I do not see brought up by any of those in Congress, Dick Cheney, or Mitt Romney, and that is, are we getting our money's worth from the $650 billion that we are currently spending? On July 19th, I read an article that stated, "Armet Armored Vehicles and its 67-year-old president William R. Whyte were indicted on three counts of major fraud, seven counts of wire fraud and three counts of false, fictitious and fraudulent claims, the Justice Department announced." It seems that this defense contractor was providing armored vehicles for use in Iraq that weren’t properly protected. Doesn't sound like we are properly protecting the troops from harm. This might be why Romney sees a need to increase the "active duty personnel" since we aren't protecting the ones that we have now. I guess in his logic, we can just get more "help" to fight these wars and to "prevent" future wars. It appears that one can take solace in the fact that the vehicles that this contractor was making for the military was intended to carry VIP's and not your average soldier. The vehicles that this contractor was making was to meet specific requirements, including being resistant to armor-piercing bullets, an undercarriage with mine plating protection and run-flat tires.
Then there are the Air Force pilots who are now looking for whistle blower protection for reporting a faulty oxygen system in the F-22 Raptor, that is suffocating the pilots and causing blackouts which is making them fear for their lives and for the lives of people on the ground. Maj. Jeremy Gordon and Capt. Josh Wilson risked their careers by appearing on the CBS news program "60 Minutes," in uniform and without permission to discuss the stealth fighter's flaw. It appears to me that this is another case of shoddy work from the defense industry. Looks like money well spent, what do you think?
I believe its time that Congress starts listening to the voters on this subject, and not the lobbyists, and also, to start practicing the fiscal responsibility that all Americans want them to. After all, "does the U.S. want to be a nation that cuts education funding while refusing to even consider reducing defense spending?" Reminds me of the old saying from the late 1960s, "wouldn't it be great if schools had all of the money they need, and the military had to hold bake sales for a new jet fighter?" We can reduce the military budget by making strategic choices on what aging platforms are replaced so as to better represent the needs of the 21st century, and not those of the last century. We need to re-assess our commitments to the rest of the world, and stop being the police of the world, absorbing the cost of defending countries who in turn are not spending on their own defense. We also need to bring reform our defense contracting, and hold these companies accountable for the shoddy equipment they are providing.
Lastly, we need leadership in all levels of our government in finding ways to reduce our defense burden not through continued spending, but through finding greater efficiencies within the Pentagon, and through our foreign policy. As Libertarian Presidential candidate, Gary Johnson, states on his web site concerning foreign policy, "Maintaining a strong national defense is the most basic of the federal government’s responsibilities. However, building schools, roads, and hospitals in other countries are not among those basic obligations. Yet that is exactly what we have been doing for much of the past 10 years. Given trillion-dollar deficits, America simply cannot afford to be engaged in foreign policy programs that are not clearly protecting U.S. interests. There is nation-building and rebuilding to be done right here at home. Our military should remain the most potent force for good on Earth. To do this, we should resort to military action as the last option and only as provided in the Constitution."
So when does this corrupt congress start listening to the voters, or when does the voters start making wiser decisions on who represents them?
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