Fiscal Responsibility And Runaway Military Spending Are Not Compatible

Today the Republicans and their Tea Party associates are dwelling in election victory. The GOP expressed that the American people gave them a “mandate” to either set the political agenda and, of course, derail any further plan of reforms coming from the Obama administration. The intention of the Republicans, bluntly conveyed today, is also to repeal what they call the ” monstrosity that is Obamacare”. Beside setting up they target on President Obama’s health care reform bill, the GOP will also focused on making the finance reform bill as ineffective as possible to cut  Wall Street completely loose again.

The GOP control of the House of Representatives will make Republicans  heads of all of the committees. As such, the GOP will have control of the budget, and they have made fiscal responsibility the core issue of their agenda by pledging to cut the ballooning budget deficit. Cutting the budget deficit should be the goal of all US politicians independently of political affiliation, because the current spending spree, not balanced by an increase in taxation, is just not sustainable in the long term.

However, the GOP and the Tea Party have managed not to let their voters connect the dots in what is, by far, the biggest money drain of the United States: military spending. This is a flagrant case of either lack of logic or of fundamental intellectual dishonesty. In other words, how can you claim to be concerned by the budget deficit without talking about deep military spending cuts?

On October 13, 2010, a political news went almost unnoticed. A group of 57 lawmakers from both the House and the Senate (or about 10 percent of the 535 members of Congress) urged a commission looking for ways to balance the federal budget to recommend deep cuts in Department of Defense spending. The group was initiated by a bi-partisan effort of Representative Barney Frank (D) and Representative Ron Paul (R). The group (including five Senators) is made up mainly of Democrats, and the Congressmen argue that cutting the $712 billion military budget must be part of any viable proposal for budget deficit reduction.

The Defense Department currently accounts for almost 56 percent of all discretionary federal spending, and nearly 65 percent of the increase in annual discretionary federal spending since 2001. The budget deficit for fiscal 2010 (ended September 30) was estimated at around $1.3 trillion by the Congressional Budget Office. However, at the noticeable exception of Ron Paul-the co-sponsor of the initiative-, the GOP including members of the House Armed Services Committee, called not to cut but instead to increase spending on the military. The GOP cited a range of  perceived “threats to national security” in regards to China’s “military build up”, Iran and North Korea.

In the letter sent on May 27,2010, by Rep. Frank and Rep. Paul to the National Committee On Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, the two Congressmen wrote that they were “surprised at the apparent absence of discussion about the efficacy, the extent and cost of overseas US military commitments when debating how to deal with our extremely serious deficit problem”.

Now considering that Republicans and Democrats must, somehow, find common ground to govern, the bi-partisan initiative of Barney Frank and Ron Paul should be emulated. Unfortunately, the two Congressmen could only convince 55 of their colleagues to address the colossal issue of the 1-trillion-dollars-a-year gorilla sucking the US Treasury dry: the Department Of Defense budget. For fiscal 2011, the US military spending will reach $708 billion.


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