He’s right on one point, wrong on the other.
Yes, the national debt is a serious national security threat. But no, cutting Pentagon spending is not the answer.
Cutting domestic spending—especially on entitlements and other social programs—is where the opportunity lies for cutting the deficit and in turn, the level of national debt. According to the executive.gov article:
The national debt is the single biggest threat to national security, according to Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Tax payers will be paying around $600 billion in interest on the national debt by 2012, the chairman told students and local leaders in Detroit.
“That’s one year’s worth of defense budget,” he said, adding that the Pentagon needs to cut back on spending.
“We’re going to have to do that if it’s going to survive at all,” Mullen said, “and do it in a way that is predictable.”
Arbitrarily cutting back on defense spending is not the way to control the deficit or reduce the national debt. As of FY 2010, the Pentagon had asked for a mere $533.8 billion in regular funding, or about 3.6 percent of an estimated GDP of $14.6 trillion. As we know, GDP is not going to get anywhere close to $14.6 trillion in FY 2010. That accounting period ends on September 30, 2010, and at the current rate of 1.6% of growth, we can expect to see GDP at no more than $13.5 trillion, at best. So it’s true that defense spending will increase as a percentage of GDP for this fiscal year.
Defense spending is not the problem, even with two wars and the effects of replacing aging or destroyed equipment. No, the problem is the off-budget spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other entitlement programs. Those programs grow as fast as the population of entitled recipients grow. Until real entitlement program reform occurs, the programs will continue to eat an ever larger portion of federal receipts, crowding out critical expenditures for defense, transportation infrastructure, education, promotion of interstate commerce and a host of other activities that are the constitutional responsibilities of government.
When it comes to budget-cutting, the first targets of liberals are defense-related expenditures. According to their logic, making America weaker and less able to defend herself means that our enemies are less likely to go on the aggressive. Do you think Russia, China and Iran believe that cutting defense spending to balance the budget is a good idea?
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