Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint-Chiefs-of-Staff chair Admiral Mike Mullen are already shrieking like neurotic lapdogs confronted with a nail-clipping… I mean, “warn[ing] of dire consequences if the Pentagon is forced to make cuts to its budget beyond the $400 billion in savings planned for the next decade… “
“We’re already taking our share of the discretionary cuts as part of this debt-ceiling agreement, and those are going to be tough enough,” Panetta told reporters in his first news conference as defense secretary. “I think anything beyond that would damage our national defense.” […] __
Defense spending represents about half of the federal government’s discretionary spending, and the military’s budget has increased by more than 70 percent since 2001. Although the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the Pentagon upward of $1 trillion, nearly half of the growth in defense spending in the past decade has been unrelated to the wars. […] __
Mullen, who just returned from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, said the partisan fight over debt reduction had fueled worries among the troops that they might not be paid on time.
“Our men and women down range have enough to worry about just getting their job done,” Mullen said. “They shouldn’t also be concerned about whether or not they will be paid to do that job or whether or not their families will continue to get the support they need during long absences. We can do better than that, as a military and as a nation.”
Emphasis mine. Hey, if hostage-taking works for Republicans, why shouldn’t the valiant REMFs of the world’s most expensive military make it another weapon in its arsenal?
Doghouse Riley talks about “The Battle Elephant in the Room“:
Medicare–it provides less than half the medical expenses of its beneficiaries, the elderly and the disabled–is 13% of the Federal budget. Total Medicare spending in 2009 was $484 billion. In 2009 the total interest on the National Debt attributable to military spending was $390 billion. That’s the interest we pay on all things military (including VA costs and military pensions) for having acted, since 1946, as though it were perpetually 1944.
Our ten Nimitz-class supercarriers represent a $450 billion collection of holes in the ocean in construction costs alone; they’re scheduled to be replaced by 2040 by an equal number of Gerald Ford-class hulks at twice the cost, assuming you believe 2005 estimates, which you shouldn’t. That’s construction costs. Not development, nor maintenance, nor upgrades, attendant fleet, staffing, planes, aviation fuel, or the cost someone will eventually bear to do something with the twin reactors when we don’t need ’em anymore. That’s our supercarrier Navy. No one else in the world has any. Their role is to intimidate tenth-rate military powers, since we haven’t figured out how to invade any on the ground…
Medicare, like Social Security, is a trust. You pay a separate tax bill into the fund. Eliminate it altogether and you get that portion of your taxes back, and good luck saving it for when you can’t work. This has been lumped into the “social spending” category–public health, hospitals, schools–by the American Right and Democratic centrists since the Vietnam war, in order to insist it was The Great Society, and not a wasteful and useless jungle conflict, which was destroying the US economy. It’s an argument disguised as a fact, and apparently no one born after the Nixon administration can be bothered to notice. Fer chrissakes, we spent nearly $700 billion on “Defense” in 2010 not including the costs of however many wars we’re in now, and that’s if you believe it’s the one thing the government doesn’t lie about…
Look, children: you’ve been sold a bill of goods, including the confusion of the honor of military service with the less-that-honorable uses to which it’s been put over the last sixty years. You got sold the idea that the war in Vietnam was divisive because dirty hippies spit on returning veterans, and not because the goddam thing was a lie from beginning to end which a large portion of the citizenry slowly came to realize, and object to. There’s nothing in this country so bloated and wasteful as our military budget; there’s no government expenditure anywhere else in the world that begins to match it. Caring for our elderly and disabled citizens is not a discretionary item; it’s a measure of our humanity.
I’m not a pacifist. I agree we should Support Our Troops, and the first step towards doing that would be not sending them into harm’s way because some politician wants to win a penis-measuring contest or needs an excuse to start reading everyone’s email or thinks that a little ‘military action’ might substitute for a jobs program. And pretending that the ground troops’ paychecks are at risk every time somebody looks askance at Congressman Shakedown’s latest home-district boondoggle or some PNAC lobbyist’s paradigm-shifting proposal to introduce democracywhiskeysexxy to some unfortunate corner of the globe is the very opposite of Respecting Our Brave Defenders.
I’m a pacifist.
Unfortunately, what would we do with all those troops if we left everywhere we are now?
I don’t know the answer to that question, btw. But it’s a big one.
i love this post.
Is that what we’re really calling them?
Both of my parents worked for the aerospace industry when I was growing up in the 70s. This is different than being on welfare because I was the indirect recipient of taxpayer money.
Oh, and there were bombs!
I am so not a fan of poorly-thought-out, near-hysterical stuff like this.
Or did you miss yesterday’s discussion in which the consensus was that any pressure brought on the Teahadists to act like something other than petulant children is a good thing, and pressure from this source was an especially good thing because it would be difficult to ignore?
You might try to think outside the box on occasion. Conventional wisdom may be conventional, but it is rarely wise.
@themanintheguyfawkesmask: we will find out soon.
Panetta and Mullens are currently desparately trying to get the Iraqis to let us keep 10k troops but i don’t think its gunna fly.
Muqtada just collected 2.5 million sigs to get the american troops to GO AWAY.
that would be like 83 million sigs in America.
to the man in the mask,
We could train them to build railroads and bridges, manufacture or retrofit electric cars, install solar panels and wind generators, paint roofs white, teach in schools, mentor inmates in prisons, teach school, plant trees, build levees, dredge silt from Arizona lakes to ensure the Hoover and Coolidge dams can stay operable longer, be home with their families, or countless other things some would call “busy work” but most would call “worthy causes”.
But this is Annie’s point – you could cut the Pentagon’s budget a good deal by eliminating stupid projects and none of the troops would need to go anywhere.
I agree that we need to pull troops out all over the world – we’re spread all over for really no good reason anymore – but you can cut the Defense budget by quite a bit before we need to start bringing troops home. provided, of course, the people making the cuts are sane.
Now we’re going to lose jobs among defense contractors when we do this. Everyone should be made aware of that. But the correct choice here is “either we raise taxes or we lose defense contractor jobs” not “either we lose defense contractor jobs or we cut Medicare”. The second is a false choice – the real choice is the first one. And somebody needs to start getting through to voters that if you want to have stuff, you have to PAY for it. You like having a first world country with the world’s largest military and defense contractor jobs in every Congressional district? You need to pay for it. If you don’t want to pay for it you can’t have it.
Be somewhat realistic. If we’re talking about cutting the military budget in the current environment there’s a zero percent chance that we’d invest in retraining these guys to do any of that, or provide the subsidies needed to the industries to have them do it themselves.
If we were talking about reducing the side of the military in the 90s then sure – that could happen. But now? Not gonna happen without some severe changes in Congress (changes I’d like to help happen, but that realistically aren’t going to be in place by the time these budget cuts come due).
@jon: that sounds like a good idea. but what’s the chance of it flying?
I’m at the point of thinking we need a new WPA.
BTW, do we need troops in Germany? Japan? Phillipines?
James K. Polk, Esq.
Gerald Ford class?
Surely it should be Ronald Reagan class, right?
The one thing that gave me quite some joy during this most recent unpleasantness was listening to the Tea Party Patriots in this area (almost exclusively retired military and/or civil service) call into the local RWNJ radio station and screech cause there was a possibility that their military retirement checks might be held up. Seems the Teahadists in Congress forgot that the majority of people who elected them depend on some sort of government handout (social security, medicaid, veterans benefits, government retirement). Funny dat.
The sad thing about this is when and if military budget cuts are implemented, they WILL impact personnel and not product. Far easier to send some troops back to civilian life than to kill a defense project. Plus, this gives the NeoConfederates an opening (not that they EVER need one) to bitch about Dems being weak on defense (while they won’t mention the GOPers who signed off on it, they will primary every last one of them).
Dude, (Dudess), Panetta heads the friggin’ agency where the cuts are targeted.
OF COURSE he’s gonna fight for the most $$ he can get!!!
Get a grip …
Bingo. The armed forces = welfare & Section 8 housing for Red Staters.
At a time when unemployment going to 9.1% is seen as a good thing, I think there’s a real opportunity for some of that to be successful. Especially if it’s sold as a Jobs For Vets program. Would that be wasteful? Somewhat. Will it have many useless projects? Definitely. But it’s less expensive and more useful to Americans than another war in Asia.
And since building roads and bridges and creating power generators is part of what the military already does, it’s really not that big a jump to see how some Congresscritters could see a silver lining in defense cuts (which will result from the Supercongress’ future inability to come up with a deal) since these defense programs can continue under the guidance of many former defense contractor spin-off corporations. It’s not as if Raytheon wouldn’t want government money and would just curl up and die.
No one could have predicted the Libyan stalemate.
I sure as hell didn’t. We don’t get much bang for our buck when it comes to the military.
Raven (formerly stuckinred)
@jon: Creating power generators?
What NonyNony @8 said.
(I can haz the fucking [reply] button back, yes?)
1}–dissolve NATO. It does us no good at all. It requires us to base US military assets in Europe to make up for the spending they use NATO to avoid, and it adds unnessessary political layers to the employment of those forces. It also does fuck-all for America’s image in those countries. They despise us no matter what we do, there’s no reason to pay for it.
2}–Cut the US Air Force as a standing military organization. It’s layers of officers that don’t do anything but fuck over the other services. There is no such thing as “joint” in the USAF vernacular. Return all the operational assets to the Army, deactivate the nuclear missiles (ground-based static launchers are obsolete) and give the remaining strategic assets to the Navy.
3}–Cut the US Navy to eight carrier battle groups instead of 10. Cancel the Ford class. Current carrier designs are intended to last 50 to 60 years. There is no reason to build a new carrier just because we want to experiment with new technologies. That’s what SLEPs are for.
4}–following on from 2 and 3, cancel the F-35. A fighter plane should be able to fly and fight. The F-35 apparently cannot do both at the same time. Additionally, when a project’s primary goal is to produce an aircraft that is 75% as capable and 50% as costly as the alternative, that project is a failure when you’ve dumped billions of dollars extra into it and your product is 90% as costly and %20 as capable as the alternative it was to replace.
I have other ideas. The first and most important, is that American leaders, and the American public need to learn to ask the question “so what?” whenever anything happens in the world.
The Pale Scot
The Asylum Street Spankers on utube
Oh, Stick magnetic ribbons on your SUV,
Keep your apathy and get off scott-free.
If I don’t see a ribbon on that SUV,
I’ll call you a red,
Wish you were dead,
Put the blame on weed.
If I don’t see a ribbon on that SUV….
…Now the whole damn world is bleeding
And the last thing that we need
‘s another fucking ribbon on that gas-guzzling SOB…
wont work Burnsy.
Because of red/blue genetics, conservative backfire effect, Right Wing Authority tendancy, and racial/religio nativisism.
the only things that work are fear and trickery.
Obama just tricked them. Praps the market freefall and their corporate overloards can scare them.
One of the problems with jobs right now, that everyone seems to conveniently ignore, is that with Government cutbacks, both at the Federal and State levels, hundreds of thousands of Government workers have been laid off or just let go. There was one estimate that 750,000 teachers alone had been let go. There have been several little reported studies that showed the reason for the slow growth in the economy was because of Government cutbacks. Only today they said that the jobs report was only 117,000 because of budget standoff in MN.
While I am all for reductions in the defense budget you have to remember that a lot of the troops currently serving are full time National Guard and Reserves. What the hell are we going to do with them if we cut back and flood the market with them, there certainly are no great employment opportunities for them.
“We could train them to build railroads and bridges, manufacture or retrofit electric cars, install solar panels and wind generators, paint roofs white, teach in schools, mentor inmates in prisons, teach school, plant trees, build levees, dredge silt from Arizona lakes to ensure the Hoover and Coolidge dams can stay operable longer, be home with their families, or countless other things some would call “busy work” but most would call “worthy causes”.”
This is also true, but until the politicians get off their arses and realize that only a massive amount of money pumped into this Country’s crumbling infrastructure is going to save it then we are pretty much doomed. You have to remember these are folks who are terrified of fucking light bulbs and who think that high speed rail is sochulist.
Edited cause of the s word.
Belafon (formerly anonevent)
Eh, I expect the head of the EPA to decry cuts, and I expect the head of the Military to decry cuts. It’s the way this stuff works.
Now, the fact that our current economy is so dependent on the military is a bad thing. I really hate the “can’t close this base because so many jobs depend on it” argument. So do the people who lose their job to positions being sent overseas. We really need to decouple the military from the economy more.
Reply button works for me – it got fixed last weekend.
If you’re not seeing it, try doing a Shift-reload on the page. For some reason it didn’t start showing up for me after Cole said he’d gotten it fixed until I did a Shift-reload.
Culture of Truth
Congress budgeted a 1.2 percent increase, to $8.6 billion, for missile defense programs in 2012. That would raise total costs to about $150 billion, or roughly the inflation-adjusted amount spent on the Apollo program to go to the moon.
That’s exactly what G said yesterday as we were watching the news. Call them home and start rebuilding and fixing our infrastructure.
I took a main road in downtown Buffalo coming from a party on Wednesday evening that shocked me in more ways than one. It was the worse road I have ever ridden on from the top to the end. Even worse was the fact it led right into the square in front of city hall.
Ironic that the place I was at for the party was a few doors from the Army Engineer Corps building.
That’s a great blog post, emotional and logical at the same time. The only thing I wish it had, being kind of an Ezra-style wonk, is hyperlinks for the factual assertions.
I did rather get a giggle at people screeching that cutting the Military was scary dangerous while, as best we could judge by their actions, pretty much shuttering the FAA was no bit deal. Could someone just run those statistics again . . . Apparently the risk and danger posed by planes crashing into things is trickier than I originally thought . .
Raven (formerly stuckinred)
@soonergrunt: Hey bro, how’s it hangin? Hover over the lower right hand corner of the message and the reply button will appear.
@Raven (formerly stuckinred): One of the biggest reasons the Marines are interested in solar power is because they expend so much energy and put themselves (and contractors) in a great amount of danger getting diesel fuel to forward bases in places such as Afghanistan. Damn right they want to build power generators.
Raven (formerly stuckinred)
@jon: Gotcha, I just didn’t get “creating”. I think they get created and the jarheads assemble em.
I’m so sick of this having to be a de facto statement when people talk about cutting military spending, or bringing people back from our many wars and not-wars. I know a decent amount of military or military families, and I know exactly one person who still thinks the Iraq War was a good idea at the outset, and exactly zero who still think there’s a good reason to be in Iraq or Afghanistan. I’m sure there are many military folks who do still support those wars, but the default position for just about everyone in the country seems to be that we’ve had about enough already, and can bring people home.
Villago Delenda Est
The troops should be worried they won’t get paid, because they are job last in the DoD’s priority list. They always are. Defense contractor buddies (often retired flag officers) of DoD officials are ahead in the queue.
In no way do I think Obama is “just like Bush” or any of that nonsense, but I find this very troubling. Our offense spending is out of hand.
I support a reasonably standing Army, Navy and Marines (someone has to figure out why we have an Air Force, Navy airwings, Marine squadrons, and an Air National Guard. Do we really freakin need air support w/in each service and a separate Air Force? I digress slightly, but really it’s the main point:)
The military in our country is a bloated beast sucking up way, way, way to many resources. I know the Obama admin can’t embrace the Boehner defense cuts too openly since all Democrats are peacnik wimp socialists.
But fer g_ds sake, the war machine is bankrupting us.
Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937
@James K. Polk, Esq.: The big lasers developed to shoot missiles down have been named Ronny Ray-guns.
Villago Delenda Est
@Culture of Truth:
“Missile defense” is one of the greatest boondoggles in the long history of DoD boondoggles, to include the anti-aircraft gun with a radar that targeted (and blew away) an outhouse because the fan in it drew the AA gun’s radar’s attention.
“Missile defense” is utter bullshit. Might as well be trying to design a gun that is used “defensively” to shoot other bullets out of the air.
Isn’t it a consistent feature of every declining empire that they continue to dump buckets of money on a big, shiny, military when everything else starts to crumble?
@ #24 Culture of Truth:
It’s not just the staggering expense, it’s the fact that they couldn’t hit water with an interceptor missile if they fired it from a boat.
Sorry for the movie allusion, but it seemed to fit in this case.
Sooner! You’re alive! Haven’t heard from you since the tornadoes. I was afraid you’d been blown away.
Good to see that you’re still kicking. :-) [big smile]
Paul in KY
I would think a ‘Gerald Ford’ class of anything would have a higher chance of running aground, spontaneously combusting, etc.
Some jokes just write themselves…
Villago Delenda Est
They couldn’t hit hit water with an interceptor missile because the water didn’t have a transponder in it to attract the interceptor missile’s attention.
Unlike a North Korean missile, in which the North Koreans will obligingly install a transponder for the interceptor to home in on.
Except they can’t even get the interceptor to do that under heavily controlled test conditions…
Gee, I dunno. Maybe they could counsel troubled youth and build bridges and take old people on shopping trips.
Just off the top of my head…
Granted, it’s not jobs for Navy SEALS. But we got SEALS when we need them, and they can continue kicking butt for a living, and the rest of them; support staff a lot of them; are lovely people who would be thrilled to, ya know, support people.
@Raven (formerly stuckinred):
I’m OK. Just been busy with the new job, and I actually got to go on a vacation for the first time since Afghanistan. Since going to Comic-con and the beach in San Diego is more fun than hanging out here, I haven’t been posting much. Also, the aforementioned new job keeping me busy.
top 5 states by military population:
TX, FL, CA, VA, NC
one of those went for McCain.
@Raven (formerly stuckinred): There’s a cheap joke here but I believe I will restrain myself.
A mathematician friend of mine knew some fellow math geeks who worked at Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos. When Reagan first suggested “Star Wars” — the general term for shooting-down-missiles technology — one of his math buddies said, “It’ll never work, but that’s a trough I’d love to get my snout into.” And he did, apparently. We were an incredibly rich country and we chose (collectively) to throw it all down a military rat hole. Good health care for all, spectacular public transit, secure social safety nets and more would have been easily affordable had we not gone (again, collectively) mad.
I have no idea what the actual figures are and no idea where to find them, but I would imagine that if you’re arguing about the thesis of “military spending = welfare & section 8 housing for Red Staters,” the relevant statistic is the percentage of the general population that enlists rather than the number of military personnel in each state. I would imagine that California, Texas and Florida consistently have the highest populations in most demographic subgroups simply because they’re by far the most populous states. It has always been my understanding that the southern states have a disproportionately high number of military vets per capita relative to the rest of the nation, which I think is what someguy meant, but I honestly don’t know where I read that or if I’m misremembering.
Cutting the defense budget doesn’t only impact military personnel. As Jewish Steel pointed out above, a lot of the defense budget is spent in the private sector. The defense budget is some of the biggest welfare/jobs spending we do. Why do you think the defense industry likes to make sure that they spread out jobs across as many districts as possible. No congressman/woman wants to cut funding that will impact jobs in his/her district.
There is no question we need to cut defense. That money should be going somewhere useful, employing American men/women in building the United States not in maintaining an empire. But large defense cuts alone (without spending that money elsewhere) will result in a growth of unemployment in both the public and private sectors.
@James K. Polk, Esq.:
No, Ford was a Navy man — Lt. Commander, I think, and fought in WWII. Reagan was an actor, and played at fighting in WWII. As aircraft carriers are Navy ships, they name them after Navy Presidents.
“Anti-missile” systems get named after actors, since the appearance of functioning is all that counts.
If I remember from Oh a few months ago, that Gates was fully aware that the Pentagon was going to have to come up with cuts, because he knew that they current monies and the “no questions asked” system was likely unsustainable. Then Congress meddled.
Villago Delenda Est
The problem, as was discussed a few days ago in a similar thread, with “Defense” spending as Keynsian stimulus is that it’s a very wasteful way to provide stimulus, in that its products have marginal further economic activity generating qualities. Unless you consider delivering bullets downrange to be a useful economic activity.
@ed drone: Carter was a navy man as well. Now, when these Ford Class Hulks are replaced by Carter Class Hulks in 2100, it will be interesting to watch all Republican support for them evaporate.
Also assuming you believe we’ll still have a functioning country in 2040.
When I was deployed you could get lobster tails and steak every Friday, if you happened to be on a large FOB. Guarded convoys filled with office furniture and XBox’s down IED laced MSR’s. No waste my ass.
How do you explain the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) then?
mike in dc
Seems like we could probably get by with fewer carrier groups and fewer new fighters, but could use more actual combat brigades and whatnot.
i like Fark’s headline for this story:
why would that be?
enlisting usually involves leaving your home state. you and your salary go to some other (typically hot, southern) state and your home state receives no benefit.
NY isn’t benefiting from all the NYers who enlist and end up in Fort Bragg or Camp Lejeune.
@Mark S.: Aircraft carriers don’t have to go up and down stairs.
The F-35 was an abomination at its conception. Some geniuses decided that there were great cost savings to be realized by developing a multipurpose chassis in much the same way automakers adapted pickup chassis for SUVs. Never mind that the VTOL version the Marines need for using aboard carriers is significantly different from the land-based model the Air Force requires. Or that by intending it for a variety of roles, from air superiority to close ground support, means that it does none of them particularly well. Never mind, for instance, that the F-35, even in the most optimistic assessment, doesn’t approach the A-10 Warthog in close ground support capability; the F-35 goes faster and looks cooler, so the USAF wants a bunch of them, so the Warthog’s got to go.
And I agree with you on the general uselessness of the Air Force as separate branch of the military. I’d argue that with the possible exception of Kosovo, the USAF has drastically oversold its capabilities in every conflict in which the United States has been involved since 1947, often with disastrous consequences. And, from my observations, I’d rank its officer corps as the worst in the military as well.
@soonergrunt: THIS. About eleventy million times.
…and I say that as a guy whose best buddy has a stepson in the Nav, and who has a daughter who always seems to develop crushes on guys in uniform (sigh).
Secondary to my earlier point,
The F-35 testing program has been grounded due to a major failure. Again.
These aircraft were supposed to be IOC in all three services years ago.
@Mark S.: We’ve got lots of bang, but it has its limits as you see in Libya. Remember we tried to bomb N. Vietnam back to the stone age. They have lower unemployment than us today.
now this is interesting.
Cap’n Stupid rides again.
sounds like a recipe for disaster to me.
less see….. 60000 mahdi army veterens vs 10k troops?
Panetta and Mullens are signing our troops up for a tour of halal hamburger i think.
Loss of F35 would mean massive economic loss to the community and base where I work. But I still agree that the aircraft is a waste. As an Army guy, I always thought the AF was mostly a waste and economic drain.
And the Navy..don’t get me started. Army saves money with warrant officer pilots (could be sergeants, but too political) and the Navy has two commissioned guys in each helicopter, mostly field grades. What a waste of money and talent, just waiting to retire and get a good contracting job.
The AF is absolutely a proving ground for GO’s going to defense contractors.
Villago Delenda Est
The Jeebofascist zoomie fuckheads of the USAF HATE HATE HATE HATE HATE the A-10, probably because the Army (who the USAF exists to support, even though they claim the can win wars all by themselves (as you note), without the need to actually, you know, occupy terrain?) loves the A-10. The Warthog is superb at what it does, but it moves toooo slooooow for the zoomies.
I know! We need a Star Cruiser!
Taking Freeman Dyson’s starship design and cost estimate at face value, it’ll only set the U.S. back a cool $3.5 trillion. Add some laser cannons (might increase the cost a bit more) and you’re set to conquer the galaxy. Just make sure to spread out the subcontractors very carefully amongst all congressional districts.
@Pavonis: nah….we just need to run across the Outsiders.
then we could trade for bussard ramjets and hyperdrives.
don’t all the other branches of the military already have their own air force ?
I think the only purpose of the USAF at this point is to deliver nuclear bombs.
@moops: so long as the Key West agreement is in effect, the Army can’t do anything more than rotary-wing CAS with limits to both operating altitude and depth of field.
There’s not enough Naval air to adequately support the Army.