Sunday, April 10, 2011

National security is America’s Sacred Cow

In Chris Hellman's article for Tomgram he calculates “The Real U.S. National Security Budget” outlay at $1.2 to $1.3 trillion. The 2012 national security budget request is for $1.030–$1.415 trillion. While the 2011 United States federal budget request by President Obama puts federal budget expenditures at $3.82 trillion, with a deficit of $1.65 trillion.

There are national security costs that are unknown and could in reality increase these costs even more. Some of the unknowns are supplemental appropriations for defense, such as last year’s H.R. 4899, the Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2010, and “Top Secret America, a hidden world, growing beyond control [that] has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.” And there are contingencies such as Libya: “On the first day of strikes alone, U.S.-led forces launched 112 long-range Tomahawk cruise missiles, which cost about $1 million to $1.5 million apiece, from ships stationed off the Libyan coast. That totaled $112 million to $168 million.”

In reality, national security costs already add-up to greater than one-third, and possibly could end up at one-fourth to a half, of the federal budget.

Independents, democrats, and republicans alike have an egregiously disproportionate regard to funding national security, which supersedes any concern for the wellbeing of needy Americans. Homeland Security and the Pentagon are rampant with cost excesses. For example, the Navy has eleven carrier strike groups. Each group has a complement of 7,500 personnel, an aircraft carrier with an air wing of 65 to 70 aircraft, at least one cruiser, and two destroyers. As James Carroll points out in “Our misguided faith in strength, More personnel serve on just one carrier task force than the total of US foreign service officers. The familiar fact bears emphasizing: the State Department spends less than $50 billion annually, compared to the nearly trillion-dollar Pentagon — and Republicans want to cut the State Department even more.” Carroll also points out that we are “spending more than the rest of the world combined on weapons and warriors. …In fact, we outspend … China, roughly by a factor of 10.”

Bush’s “war on terror,” including the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, since the 9/11 terror attacks and through 2010, have cost an estimated $1.15 trillion, according to the Congressional Research Service. Bush borrowed most of the money to fund these wars. At the same time, Bush and the republican majority cut taxes on the wealthy, pushing the middle class into poverty while bolstering America’s plutocracy. At the beginning of this year, Obama compromised with republicans to extend Bush’s tax cuts for another two years, even though they were cognizant of the fact that these tax cuts would increase the deficit by $858 billion dollars, and has become one of the deficit’s principal drivers.

This alone is proof positive that there is a lack of concern for Americans on Main Street, never mind the wellbeing of needy Americans, yet then we have Wisconsin Republican and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s “Path to Prosperity,” the republican 2012 budget resolution. It is designed “to trim more than $1 trillion from the deficit over the next decade by reworking and cutting Medicaid and Medicare, defunding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, cutting farm subsidies, and other discretionary spending. Additionally, Ryan proposes a tax rate reduction to 25 percent for affluent individuals, corporations, and to end deductions.

Republicans say they are proposing budget cuts in non-defense discretionary spending, despite the fact that Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security constitute mandatory spending. National security is necessary, but the sky is not the limit. Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya fall under the category of discretionary spending, since it was America’s choice to engage in those endeavors.

And, it’s important to note that Obama’s spending plan also targets non-defense discretionary spending, cutting into programs that assist the poor, help the needy heat their homes, and expand access to graduate-level education.

Despite the fact that “A majority of Americans prefer cutting defense spending to reduce the federal deficit rather than taking money from public retirement and health programs,” to the President and congress national security spending remains sacrosanct. It’s America’s Sacred Cow.

RELATED VIDEO: Rethink Afghanistan War (Part 3): Cost of War


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E.J. Dionne, Jr., “The Right’s War on Moderation,” Posted on Apr 6, 2011

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Jay Bookman, “The Ryan budget plan, Part II: Medicare,” Atlanta Journal- Constitution:

Jay Bookman, “The Ryan budget plan, Part III: More trickle-down,” Atlanta Journal- Constitution:

Wikipedia contributors, 'Military budget of the United States', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 April 2011, 15:21 UTC, [accessed 9 April 2011]

Christopher Hellman, “FY 2012 Budget Request: Detailed Numbers,” Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation:

Matthew Potter, “Despite Record Defense Spending Layoffs Starting to Mount,” Defense Procurement News:

Wikipedia contributors, 'Carrier strike group', Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 30 March 2011, 01:19 UTC, [accessed 9 April 2011]

Dana Priest and William M Arkin, “Top Secret America,” The Washington Post:

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James Carroll, “Our misguided faith in strength,”

Jennifer Liberto ,“Medicaid reduced by $1 trillion in GOP Plan,”

Juan Cole, “The $1 Trillion Cost of War: Rethinking Afghanistan, Pt. 3,”

Huffington Post, “Obama Budget Proposal: Cuts To Target Working Poor, Middle Class & Students (LIVE UPDATES),” HuffPost Politics: