This made me choke on my soda and wish it was scotch:
A panel commissioned by Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) is recommending nearly $1 trillion in cuts to the Pentagon’s budget during the next 10 years.
The Sustainable Defense Task Force, a commission of scholars from a broad ideological spectrum appointed by Frank, the House Financial Services Committee chairman, laid out actions the government could take that could save as much as $960 billion between 2011 and 2020.***
Frank on Friday warned that if he can’t convince Congress to act in the “general direction” of the task force recommendation, “then every other issue will suffer.” Not cutting the Pentagon’s budget could lead to higher taxes and spending cuts detrimental to the environment, housing and highway construction.
Yeah, right. If he can’t convince Congress to act, the only thing that will follow will be sternly worded letters. And more tax cuts, most likely, while we blame black people and medicare for the budget problem.
And I don’t mean to be too hard on Frank, because at least he is trying to do something. But $1 trillion is a drop in the bucket compared to what we will likely spend from 2011 to 2020, and even that isn’t going to happen. Hell, we’re close to spending a trillion a year on defense as it is.
Whatever. Given how in bed every retired military man and every Congress critter is with the defense industry, you want to get my attention and let me know you are serious? Make it illegal for any individual receiving military retirement benefits of any kind to work in the defense industry, and then nationalize it so we don’t have bullshit littered all over the country in every precinct serving not as vehicles for national defense, but as extremely expensive jobs programs. Jobs programs for congressmen, that is. Then close a shitload of bases. Then merge the four services and close down the academies. Get rid of stuff we don’t need like battalions of main battle tanks. Then tell the military they need to make do with merely 3-400 billion a year.
But, but . . . national security!
but, but, the terrorists…
why do you hate ‘Merika, Cole? Cain’t u see Pootin arearin his head?
It’s all you dirt fickin’ hippies fault. and that gawdamned communist Eisenhower with his bitchin bout the military-industrial complex.
Cole hates the trewps! Cole hates the trewps!
Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah Nyah…Nyah!
Also, Barney Frank is gay. A gay Gay from Gayistan.
But does he like beards?
John Cole hates his own M-1A? WTF.
Barney sure does have insight into DoD. Wonder where all that foresight was on the banking collapse.
What? You want to rapidly downsize the most centrally planned authoritarian state soshullist institution in our nation? Treason!
He wants to cut spending by 20% from the official budget. Iraq costs on top of that are winding down quickly. We’ll see what happens with Afghanistan, though. But 20% is serious money. $100B is pretty near the annual budget for the Navy.
I can never tell what card we’re reading from – Democrats suck because they don’t make work in the interest of the citizenry, because they don’t fight hard enough, or because they don’t win.
Makes me wonder why Franks should even bother trying when this is the reaction he gets from the people that agree with him.
J sub D
I’m all for drastic defense cuts, but John’s proposed solutions are a poorly thought out rant at best.
First you reduce our global military posture to one that’s designed to defend the United States and perhaps allies too poor to defend themselves.
Close the academies? You’re smokin’ some serious West by God Virginia hokum smokum. The academies are a necessity.
Here, Cole, maybe this will get ya back on track, you seem to be missing some funk lately ….
I have been slowly convinced, that when all is said and done, and the bottom has fallen out of our economy and governing structure, the single thing that can possibly save us is a grand constitutional amendment making federal elections publicly funded, completely. And since I have no confidence this country has the vision, past the television, to save itself before calamity befalls, then it will have to come after, when a loaf of bread is 50 dollars, and a commission is formed to research the feasibility of turning gunpowder into food.
By then, it may well be too late to pull our asses out of the pyre of anarchy, when the best prospect is defending our own little hell’s half acre benieth the nearest bridge, with the saving grace being we won’t have to worry about traffic keeping us awake all night because no one can afford gas.
I don’t know, John. This is some serious blasphemy that Frank is trumpeting here. I wouldn’t just wave my hand at it and move on. He’s throwing up a trial balloon, and it’s the kind I’m actually glad to see for once. Somewhere, Saxby Chambliss just shit a brick.
Frank set up tax hikes against defense cuts, as an either-or proposition. That’s the kind of thing I wish I could hear from Democrats more often.
Don’t forget that Bill Clinton was blamed by the Gingrich hordes for “hollowing out the military” for continuing the base closings and force reductions enacted by George Bush Sr., and of course our squirrel-chasing, right-wing loving medja couldn’t be bothered to point that out.
If defense spending gets up to $1 trillion per year, then cutting $1 trillion over ten years is a 10% cut. If somebody straight up said, “We’re going to cut defense spending by 10%,” you wouldn’t be pretty happy about that, even if you felt it could or should be higher?
here’s a little something for you and Barney Frank, JC.
Hrmm, This actually seems to me to be quite a bit of money to me. Not the 25-30% that’s needed to be but but somewhere between 10 and 12% – so a half to a third of the work that needs to be done long term.
@J sub D: Then design and fund a force that has the capabilities to do exactly that. Build in small amount of excess above that just because you never know.
Speaking of Scotch, my wife gave me a bottle of A’Bunadh 2010 for my 40th birthday. I think 120 proof is too much for my delicate little palate, though. Is it possible to enjoy this stuff without diluting it?
@El Cid: Approved and overseen by Dick Cheney for that matter.
Firebagger John Cole says if you can’t cut the military by 75%, there’s no point cutting it at all.
You take a sip and let it evaporate in your mouth. Problem solved.
Righteous, Cole, righteous!
Every word is the fuckin’ truth.
And none of it will happen.
Except for the sternly worded letters and tax cuts and blaming black people and medicare for the budget problem, of course.
For consolation, I’m going to have to pick some Balvenie’s Doublewood on the way home…
Get rid of that stupid ‘major war plus two regional conflicts’ idiocy that determines our troop and gear levels, and I’ll believe you can get away with a 10% cut in defense levels.
@Omnes Omnibus: Good point. I had forgotten. I guess I thought that Dick Cheney was off serving many of his active duty military missions, sacrificing what he could, helping our troops shoot more drugged quails and lawyers in the face, because by then it was too late to try and keep Nelson Mandela in jail.
At this point he might as well just start posting under the name Nick or FlipYrWhig.
@NobodySpecial: We replaced that with ‘two major more-or-less occupations at once following two regional wars’.
@Spiffy McBang: The formal defense budget is about $550B. There’s another $100-$200B glued on top of that for Iraq/Afghanistan.
Franks is proposing a permanent baseline funding cut of about the same size as shutting down Afghanistan. I don’t know when that turned into a drop in the bucket, but we used to call that a massive waste of money.
Bruce (formerly Steve S.)
You’ve never played Axis & Allies?
There’s childishness and then there’s this post.
Geez, go get drunk and tell us about your fucking tv habits some more, Cole, because it appears all that you are capable of these days…
What are you babbling about now, loblolly?
Tom Ricks has actually recommended closing the academies. They cost a huge amount of money and produce officers that aren’t that much better than the ROTC kids. The problem is that the higher up you get in your respective branch the more academy alumni there are, so obviously that will never happen.
The problem with cutting the military so much is that we have a lot of allies that rely on us for supply, training and other assistance. If we gut the military it might leave them vulnerable. It’d be nice if we could go the way of some Euro countries and turn our massive army into a very small but very professional group that’s almost special forces writ large (like what Denmark has done and contributed way above their weight in A’stan) but that will obviously never happen.
Now Stuck, the loblolly boy held an important position inn the Royal Navy. An experienced and capable loblolly boy was a key component to keeping crews healthy. Don’t smack them around with the likes if blobblob.
I suppose I could pile on the the “fat chance” theme, but one thing that is a little bit encouraging is that someone is actually seriously talking about it. I suppose your mileage on “seriously” could very considerably.
@Cris: From what I’ve read, cask-strength whisky is supposed to be diluted. Spring water, to taste.
Firefox thinks I spelled whisky wrong. Firefox doesn’t know the difference between whisky and whiskey.
@NobodySpecial: Shit, you can keep that. Just slow the pace of weapons systems development, and stop investing in fighters that cost $192M per unit. R&D and procurement are $190B per year.
Listen, buddy, cut whatever else you like at DoD, but don’t you dare try to get rid of the Army-Navy game!
This. Not much point yammering on about the symptom while the disease worsens.
Then close a shitload of bases.
Yes, bases should be closed, especially those overseas. For starters, I’d not only shut down Guantanamo as a prison, I’d give it back to the Cubans. Giftwrapped. Bases in Germany and Japan? Closed. World War II is long over.
I’d zero out SDI; it’s not only a fraud, it’s destabilizing.
All that money going to Israel? Zero it out, too, until Israel decides to negotiate in good faith.
About the only program I would ramp up is Special Forces; the Tier 1, down and dirty warriors that will fight the terror wars from now until the end of time. Terror won’t ever go away, it just has to be minimized.
OK, my theme music went FYWP so I’m resorting to the edit workaround. Hold on.
There’s a hole in the bucket
My Bucket’s got a hole in it
@Linkmeister: Thank you Link. Cole is losing it.
President Snowe tires of all the partisan bickering.
She’s right. Democrats need to do more to reach compromises with Republicans so that Republicans won’t vote for the legislation they produce by compromise and against which they’ll turn and scream that they were shut out of the process by these partisan Dem’s and Olympia Snowe and Tom Friedman and so forth will wonder why we can’t cross this partisan divide and have Democrats compromise with Republicans on legislation so that…
@Martin: Right. I probably should have been more explicit about this, but I was using John’s comment about us being almost to $1 trillion per year to create the minimum percentage-based savings we could expect from such a cut. 10% would be great, and this would be a minimum of 10%, ergo, the only flaw is that it’s never going to happen.
Which is a considerable flaw, but still…
I think the previous poster had it right — reduce the overall global posture to something a little more defensive/sane and then gradually reduce.
I don’t want to add more to unemployment, and I sure don’t want to make ’employment’ being ‘die or kill brown people’ . So draw down, reduce, and then eliminate.
Hard to make happen. The beast is huge now.
This is completely off-topic but I’m so appalled right now, that I have to vent.
More than ten years ago, a North Mississippi lawyer named Danny Lampley was one of the local attorneys (along with the ACLU ) who successfully shut down the system of overtly religious and sectarian Bible classes which were at that time mandatory for students attending the Pontotoc MS school system.
I have just learned that Mr. Lampley spent the better part of five hours in the Lee County Jail this morning for refusing to say the Pledge of Allegiance when a Chancery Court judge ordered him to. In 2010. More than 67 years after West Virginia School Board vs. Barnette decisively established the unconstitutionality of such an order. And I actually know the judge and went to high school with his daughter!
It’s your own fault, you know. You had the chance to be rid of this backwards Hell-state back in 1865. You could have evacuated the former slaves and every white person who loved America to the Western territories. But no, you had to clutch the viper called Mississippi to your breast for the next 145 years.
I need a drink.
Maybe Sarah will build a Doomsday Device, and the survivors can repair to the caves for reproduction.
@J sub D:
Yeah, it was one of the first times I ever thought, “Wow, Cole has gone places even I wouldn’t go!”
But yes, clearly the first course of action is reducing our international presence.
I still don’t understand why our national “defense doctrine” isn’t more along the lines of, “We’ll take 100 of yours out for every 1 of ours, as best we can count, and that gives us and you an end certain. Leave us alone; we’ll leave you alone.”
Definitely dilute cask-strength whisky with water (spring water is great if you can get it, agreed)
@Citizen Alan: Why do you hate our freedoms? Why are you working with the Islamofascists to impose Sharia law on Mississippi? What’s next, are you people going to complain when Real America puts you in jail for refusing to say the Lord’s Prayer and genuflecting before a picture of Glenn Beck in his Nazi uniform?
And why does Danny Lampey bother trying to bring the law to the savage people of Mississippi?
J sub D
Cutting 3-5% of the DoD budget every year over a decade yields approx. a 40% savings in defense costs in 2020.
Reduce our commitments to national defense vice (despised) global cop and a 40-50% smaller military will endanger our national security not one iota.
Something even half as ambitious won’t even be proposed by the Obama administration as it might cost votes.
@HumboldtBlue: Some things are sacred. ;)
(I do agree with joint weapons development and bases where feasible and getting rid of the “fight the Russians as they come through the Fulda Gap” tanks, though.)
There’s no more Pearl Harbor Naval Base, by the way. It’s now Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, combining the Navy and Air Force facilities (which were only separated by a perimeter fence for the past 50 years anyway).
This is true, and is encouraging.
This is, alas, also true. I am leaving now for Steve’s Liquor.
@Cris: In Scotland all scotch is served with a carafe of water so you can pour in a bit to help open it up. Really helps the aroma, which is half of tasting
@Citizen Alan: 5 hours. How will our republic survive?
You should be mad, but he was merely inconvenienced. Write about it, explaining why the judge was wrong (I’d guess about 95% of the country, and 130% of the tea partiers have no clue why it was wrong), stick it everywhere you can.
But no major harm done, other than another big chunk taken out of the public’s trust that judges know what the fuck they’re talking about.
ah, I get to deal with all this shit stone cold sober.
The problem with Snowe’s assertion about losing the center is that her own voting record has been aggressively moving rightward for a decade and a half to stay in her party. The notion that the Olympia Snowe who was elected in the Senate would deem UI extensions non-emergency funding is absurd.
@Ailuridae: I know. That’s why this comment is so absurd and could only appeal to self-absorbed nincompoops who only speak in cliches, such as little Tommy Friedman.
@Bob Loblaw: There’s arrogance and then there’s your comment. But please don’t stop there. Why don’t you elucidate for us what you’re actually good for now.
Get rid og the Air Force and incorporate it into the other services. It was that way in WWII. The Air Force has had corruption problems.
Having troops all over the world is dumb. They had to move 5,000 US troops out of Okinawa last year to Guam.
If the military hadn’t been so huge, Bush couldn’t have launched the Iraq War.
The private contractors in place of the draft created a boondoggle.
More than 60 years ago, I joined the Navy and spent the next 22 years in uniform, in places like Korea and Vietnam while they shot real bullets. I remember Eisenhower signing a budget that for the first time marked DoD spending more than $100 billion. Chump change now thanks to inflation but Ike warned of the Military-Industrial Complex growing and now it’s taken over. Attempts to kill the Joint Strike Force fighter bring complaints from around the country because of the impact on jobs in many areas. We are in thrall to our military. They do the jobs we don’t want to dirty our hands with. Maybe we need to go back to paying $75/month for recruits and start the draft again. Too many of our citizens have no time to spend or “waste” in defense of their liberties. It’s more fun to join a Tea Party and complain about everything.
Life goes on. And then one day, it doesn’t.
Over at Think Progress, Conservative GOP Senator Johnny Isakson: Reducing The Deficit ‘Begins With The Department Of Defense’. In an interview with a television station:
How long before he walks this back?
I wonder if we need 11 aircraft carriers when nobody else has more than 2.
It is conceivable that al-Qaeda may be building their own fleet.
@Citizen Alan #41:
I’m not doubting that for a moment (having spent a little time in Pontotoc, MS) but I’d love to know the backstory on it. Why did the judge order Mr. Lee to recite the PoA in the first place? As I say, I’m not challenging you but there simply has to be more to it than an out-of-the-clear-blue-sky order from the bench.
But even if the attorney (who sounds like Atticus Finch) was in contempt of court for something else, what a stupid fucking thing to do. Since when is it mandated to recite the damned Pledge of Allegiance? (For the record, I haven’t recited it in years. I stand respectfully and quietly while others say the words, but I’m sorry, my allegiance is not to a piece of cloth. I was turned off in 1954 when they added “under God,” and I was even a believer back then.). And to throw him in JAIL??
Time for me to send another donation to the ACLU. This is outrageous.
@Mark S.: It may not be Al Qa’ida, but our awesomely successful anti-drug war in Colombia has resulted in locally built submarines now being designed by Russian engineers, frequently carrying drugs undetectably straight to the southern Pacific coast of Mexico (i.e., why there are all these open shootouts with cops in Acapulco).
It’s completely irrelevant that our the most prominent narco-traffickers in Colombia are now the right wing death squad paramilitaries launched and supported (even despite the program to dissolve them) by our close ally the former President Uribe.
@Me and Citizen Alan: I meant to say Mr. Lampley, not Mr. Lee.
Mike in NC
Everything I’ve read about the teatards indicates they want massive cuts in federal government spending, but actually want to increase the Pentagon budget by many billions.
I think it goes without saying that we will cut social security to 0 before we make any meaningful military cuts. And Democrats will be cheering the whole way.
Murka, murka. Tair! Tair! Murka.
You can cut more than a trillion over 10 years by not fighting fucking useless wars.
joe from Lowell
Hey, look, a proposal by a high-ranking member of Congress to impose annual 12-digit cuts in the military budget!
Let’s shit all over it. We’re so smrat.
joe from Lowell
Clinton was re-elected in a landslide after doing that. Since then, their credibility on national security has gone down the toilet.
The things that Republicans say aren’t the driving force of our politics anymore. We need to stop being cringing little pussies, hiding under the table because we can imagine lines of attack from the wingnuts.
joe from Lowell
This. Other countries actually do have meaningful numbers of tank
This, too. As a bonus, a whole bunch of Christian crusader wackos would lose influence. Colorado Springs is like the Creation Museum with Sidewinders.
Because the rest of the world combined has 11, and we need to be ready to go to war with every country on Earth.
No, that’s the real answer, I’m sure.
You can’t close the academies because you can’t guarantee the ROTC program will be around since its a discriminatory.
End the ban on gays openly serving in the military and maybe you can get away with having no dedicated officer academies.
I’m not sure how valid the comparison is. Aircraft carriers are useful as a way of guaranteeing that you can have effective air power even if you don’t have land bases in the area. We might well want to have aircraft carriers even if nobody else in the world had a Navy. The big questions to ask are why we need both carriers and a worldwide network of air bases, and whether we need conventional aircraft carriers at all when manned aircraft are rapidly being replaced by drones.
When we have actually cut 10% from the defense budget, I will start criticizing Barney Frank for not getting more.
In the meantime, I will focus on criticizing the people who have so completely politicized defense policy that any Democrat from a district less purely blue than Franks’ can absolutely count on being called a traitor for suggesting any cuts in defense at all.
This has been going on since the 1950s. It completely warps policy, since it’s really hard for one entire party to advocate one entire swath of positions. Even Obama is cutting defense, to the extent he is, while under the protection of Bob Gates. And I can see exactly why.
It has to stop.
joe from Lowell
Hilzoy speaks da troof!
Obama has been running a tricky game. He’s been putting more and more of the war spending (which Bush funded through “emergency” supplementals) into the annual military budget, while keeping that budget at about the same level – meaning that he’s actually cutting military spending. The wingnuts were right when they attacked him for “cutting the military” back in ’09, but their attacks never caught on, because the White House could just point at the top line number and play dumb.
Then, when the top line number starts dropping (as it will next year, when spending in Iraq wastes away), and the Republicans start complaining again, the White House can do it again. “Of course there’s a peace dividend. The war is ending.”
Brilliant little scam. Don’t tell nobody.
Cole I love you but your whining is total Hamsherism right now. Any consistent reduction in the defense budget is huge given the way defense spending is growing. Jesus Christ why don’t you start whining about how we haven’t implemented single payer yet.
Since America currently pisses away well over 1.3 trillion dollars per year on the military-industrial-terror complex, broadly defined to include the NSA and NRO and VA and military retirement and Pentagon black projects and Blackwater and the CIA and the DHS and the TSA, reducing that by 10 billion per year for 10 years is a drop in the bucket.
Incidentally, the back-of-the-envelope numbers of that 1.3 trillion are: NSA = 50 billion, NRO = 50 billion, VA = 75 billion, military retirement = 75 billion, Pentagon black projects = 50 billion, Blackwater = 50 billion, CIA = 40 billion, DHS = 50 billion, TSA = 4 billion. Include the DOE budget (which is almost entirely taken up with Buck Roger superweapons like airborne laser systems and orbital weapons) + the anti-ballistic missile system (which still doesn’t work after 45 years of development) and you come up with a total of around 475 billion. Add that to the roughly 650 billion being spent on the official DOD budget and you’ve got well over 1.1 trillion. Add in all the other little line items I haven’t included like grant programs for liaisons between the military and local police (SWAT team equipment) and so on, you come to right around 1.3 trillion per year.
1.3 trillion dollars a year is a shit-ton of money. You could wipe out America’s entire budget deficit tomorrow by cutting back our military-industrial-terror budget by 80%. Think about that. Our entire annual deficit… Gone. Tomorrow. Just cut our military-industrial-terror budget back to something reasonable.
Notice also that virtually all of that 1.3 trillion dollars is wasted. It’s pissed away on non-working junk like the anti-ballistic missile system — doesn’t even work. The F-35: doesn’t even work. The Osprey helicopter: doesn’t even work. Giant new aircraft carriers — huge targets in any naval engagement, they’ll get sunk in the first 5 minutes by Shkval-class supersonic cavitating torpedos and pop-up radar stealthed cruise missiles. (A “pop-up” cruise missile travels 3 feet above the waves until it gets a few hundred yards from the target, then it suddenly shoots up vertically and slams down from above on the hapless destroyer or aircraft carrier. Our navy has admitted “there is currently no defense” against pop-up missiles.) All those Buck Rogers superweapons are worthless, giant laser beams, “rods from god” orbital weapons…all useless in actual combat. Fighting the insurgents in Iraq or Afghanistan, they’re worthless.
So the vast majority of the current DOD budget is wasted. Completely totally wasted. Our nuclear missile submarines? Worthless, designed as a balance-of-terror weapon with the USSR, which doesn’t exist anymore. Aircraft carriers? Worthless, designed to battle the Japanese Imperial navy, which doesn’t exist anymore. Our air force? Designed for WW II Battle of Britain-style dogfights, which don’t exist anymore – today, pilots fire missiles at targets so far away they can’t even see ’em and shoot down other planes visible only on radar.
It’s all completely insane.
“Get rid of stuff we don’t need like battalions of main battle tanks.”
John Cole, from one former tanker to another, you take that back. Right. Now.
every second we spend $22,200 on “defense”.
we haven’t fought a defensive war in 70 years.
I’m glad Frank is pushing this. The US is well into imperial overreach territory. I’d like to dismantle the empire on our terms and time line.
@Zifnab: Right on zif. Our host swung and missed at this one. This is an exact analog to the catfood commission. Barney is doing us all a great service by putting it out there. I wish Bacevich was in this crew – he is relentless in his attacks on the base assumptions holding up our current military.
Heh. You and me both. The Balvenie’s was 60 bucks and I suddenly realized I could in no way make the purchase right now and actually enjoy it.
I did instead have the half-glass of red that was remaining in the wine-in-a-box that had been forgotten on top of the fridge for the past week. Dunno if that lets me qualify as stone cold sober. Maybe just ordinary sober.
I’ve often thought that if the “Department of Defense” was really concerned with defense – rather than being able to interfere at will everywhere else in the world – we could do with half the number of services we have now.
Keep the Navy and the Marines (and roll them into one, unified U.S. Military command structure). Junk the Army and Air Force.
The Navy has the boomer subs that, by themselves, are capable of keeping the U.S. safe. Enough nuclear weapons to destroy the world several times over – no one is going to mess with us. How would any potential adversary hope to overcome this? An invasion of the continental U.S.? Good luck with that. They’d be dealing not only with the National Guard, but also with increasingly militarized police forces in virtually every town, plus 300 million privately owned firearms and a LOT of people who know how to use them.
Marines are a small, elite force that could be used in the rare instance that we actually need ground troops. Give them the equipment and personnel to handle their own air support – who needs an Air Force run by religious fanatics and obsessed with “strategic bombing” and fighter jocks? And we don’t need a mass Army that is mostly stationed in places where there isn’t any fighting to begin with (Germany, Japan) or in places where the U.S. has no damn business being at all (Iraq).
At the same time as the military is ramped down, civilian spending should be brought up. The military does, after all, serve as a de facto employment program. Start spending on civilian R&D instead of military R&D – I’m sure we can find something worthwhile for those brilliant scientists and engineers to do. Put the decommissioned Army troops to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, or laying a nationwide fiber-optic network.
whats another bill amongst the over 400 that are stagnating in this Hell No We Won’t, Congress
I mean seriously, if they were a Union they’d be on strike and people would be even more pissed at em. Only thing is they’re cashing paychecks on the public dollar while they sit around and circle-jerk.
Balvy Double Wood, proof that God loves us ya wankers!
@Garrigus Carraig: And, also, eliminate corporate personhood. Only when elections are federally funded and corporations are NOT people and don’t have civil rights of people, will we again have a democracy. Until then we are merely corporate serfs.