Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

11.13 Global report highlights Australia’s renewables potential amid mixed signals for coal

11.13 Interior department whistleblower: Ryan Zinke hollowed out the agency

11.12  This Land is Your Land:  The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.12 Planned Parenthood's new president warns of 'state of emergency' for women's health

11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]

11.09 Rainforest destruction from gold mining hits all-time high in Peru

11.09 A new way to make steel could cut 5% of CO2 emissions at a stroke

11.08 Medicaid’s stunning victory

11.06 On Eve of Midterms, Americans Urged to Vote 'Like the Planet Depends On It—Because It Does'

11.06 Big Oil Spending Tens of Millions to Defeat Washington State's Groundbreaking Carbon Fee Initiative [2:09 video]

11.06 India: Delhi pollution level deteriorates to 'hazardous' category

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

11.13 'You Sound Nervous': Gillum Mocks Trump as President Demands End to Florida Recount

11.13 Kyrsten Sinema wins Arizona Senate race in breakthrough for Democrats

11.12 When Obstruction of Justice Is Glaringly Obvious

11.11 These 14 Democrats Are at Core of What Bernie Sanders Calls the 'Most Progressive Freshman Class' in Modern US History

11.10 Dear Democrats: Don’t be corporate stooges too

11.10 Trump's acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings [Absense of morals and empathy are a prerequisite in the Trump administration]

Justice Matters

11.09 Trump administration blocks asylum claims by those crossing border illegally [Making America Less Great Again...]

High Crimes?

11.10 US stops refuelling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft in Yemen war [But there are a few children still alive. It's too soon!]

Economics, Crony Capitalism

11.11 Tax reform: down with the ‘stepped-up basis’

11.08 Canada is richer than the US, according to a new wealth ranking — in fact, the US doesn't even make the top 10 [Graph of richest countries based on median wealth per adult]

11.05 Under Trump, Corporate Giants See Massive Drop in Penalties: NYT [Mafia-government...]

11.02 Los Angeles’ Measure B Is a Moonshot Aimed at Creating a Public Bank [Could save the public $Billions if setup smartly]

International & Futurism

11.13 Austin's Fix for Homelessness: Tiny Houses, and Lots of Neighbors

11.13 Portugal Dared to Cast Aside Austerity. It’s Having a Major Revival.

11.13 Caravan marks one month on the road: ‘We keep on going, laughing or crying’

11.13 Letter Shows Einstein’s Prescient Concerns About ‘Dark Times’ in Germany

11.12 With Trump sitting nearby, Macron calls nationalism a betrayal [Trump was confused...; video]

11.11 The message from the midterms: a new, progressive US is slowly taking shape

11.09 US navy ship ignored sinking migrants' cries for help, say survivors [Making America Less Great Again...]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Obama's Budget Ducks Pentagon Cuts

COMMENTARY:

Obama's Budget Ducks Pentagon Cuts

by Robert Parry
Originally published in ConsortiumNews.com earlier today, 2 February 2010

Bob Parry's Editorial Note: Scott Brown’s Senate victory in Massachusetts – and the prospect of more Republican victories in November – have reinforced all the old Democratic insecurities, like the fear that they will be branded as “tax and spenders” and “soft on defense.”
 
So, President Barack Obama has wheeled out a proposed budget that seeks to freeze “discretionary” domestic spending but exempts military expenditures, even though his administration vows to eliminate unnecessary weapons systems. The Independent Institute’s Ivan Eland says the timidity is the problem:

The results of the special election for the Massachusetts Senate seat once held by Ted Kennedy reverberated like a “shot heard ’round the world” — or at least one heard ’round Washington.

All the spending lately in Washington has apparently alienated the political independents that Barack Obama won in November 2008. And the President gets the message — or at least he is making a good show of it.

His new proposal is a severely qualified three-year spending freeze, covering only about an eighth of the federal budget. The proposal covers only “discretionary spending,” programs that Congress appropriates money for each year, and leaves out the faster growing entitlement programs, such as Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, which are ballooning on automatic pilot.

Admittedly, entitlement programs are hard to cut, because . . . well . . . people feel entitled to their government handouts.

Yet Obama’s proposed spending freeze, which in fiscal year 2010 will save only a measly $10 billion to $15 billion in a $3.5 trillion annual federal budget, doesn’t even cover all discretionary spending. Exempt are the Departments of Defense and Homeland Security and foreign aid.

Yet DoD spending alone, with the Cold War long over, is the greatest in inflation-adjusted terms since World War II and has doubled since George W. Bush took office in 2001.

President Obama’s rationale for not including these security expenditures in his discretionary spending freeze is that he is prosecuting two wars.

Aside from the obvious solution of ending the two conflicts — which are part of the “war on terror” but have had the counterproductive effect of increasing retaliatory terrorism — and cutting back the defense budget, defense spending could be reduced even if the two war efforts are sustained.

Just as Obama used the economic crisis to try to pass an unrelated and expensive health care bill, George W. Bush used the 9/11 attacks to conduct an unrelated invasion of Iraq, which he then used as an excuse to pump up the defense and non-defense budgets.

Although Obama has deepened the national debt and budget deficit, most of the two are still mostly Bush’s, because his reckless spending lasted eight years and Obama’s has only been going for a year so far. Still, despite different political rhetoric, some things never change in Washington.

So why doesn’t Obama at least freeze security spending? Could it be that the “war on terror” requires Cold War-like resources to be successful?

No, the intelligence, drones, and CIA and Special Forces operations to conduct a real, covert, and more effective “war on terror” are reasonably cheap.

The real answer as to why there is no defense spending freeze: Because Democrats are always scared of being called “wimps” on national security issues — likely the same reason Obama had to support at least one overseas war and thus reluctantly escalated the Afghanistan conflict.

Even if the Afghan war is considered necessary, however, it has nothing to do with most of the defense budget. A large part of that budget is doled out to special interests, including defense industries and even uniformed service members.

So here are some suggestions of items that could be cut from the defense budget without harming national security. The Navy could cancel the CVN-79 aircraft carrier, terminate the building of littoral combat ships and LPD-26-class amphibious vessels, stop production of exorbitantly expensive DDG-1000 Zumwalt-class destroyers, and terminate production of SSN-774 Virginia-class submarines.

The Navy has little relevance to the “war on terror” and, with existing equipment, has crushing dominance over any other fleet in the world.

The Air Force should stop production of C-17 aircraft, which are expensive compared to sealift, and delay production of the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter until flight tests have been satisfactory.

The Marines should cancel the MV-22 Osprey aircraft; the range and speed advantages over existing helicopters are not worth the much higher cost.

The Army and Marines should end expansion of their forces. Adding more soldiers is very expensive because of added salaries, benefits, equipment, and support.

If any presidential administration feels it needs to use military force against terrorists, it should be employed only sparingly after law enforcement methods have failed, and with a lighter footprint so that it doesn’t fuel the Islamist fire that it seeks to dampen.

Thus, if the United States is not conducting counterproductive occupations of Muslim lands to ostensibly quell terrorism, the ground forces need not be augmented, and even can be reduced. This reduction should allow cutting the weapons and equipment that are purchased for such forces.

Finally, there are loads of pork in the foreign aid and homeland security budgets that could be extracted. At most (and even this is a stretch), Obama’s proposed limited spending freeze will result in a savings of only 3 percent of the ballooning budget deficits in the next 10 years.

To avoid his predecessor’s reputation of “spending like a drunken sailor,” Obama must include massive entitlements and discretionary security spending in his budget cutting for it to be serious.


Ivan Eland is Director of the Center on Peace & Liberty at The Independent Institute. Dr. Eland has spent 15 years working for Congress on national security issues, including stints as an investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. His books include The Empire Has No Clothes: U.S. Foreign Policy Exposed, and Putting “Defense” Back into U.S. Defense Policy.

This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.



Copyright © 2010 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on February 2, 2010.

 

Public Service Ads: