Cut Elsewhere Before Defense Gets the Ax

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Yes. One of the primary functions of the federal government is "to provide for the common defense." The scheduled cuts to defense spending included in the debt-limit deal would undermine U.S. national security.

During debt-limit increase negotiations last year, a deal was struck to convene a super committee of House and Senate members of both parties to find $1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years. A provision was included to implement automatic cuts equally divided between defense and nondefense programs, with the exception of Social Security, Medicaid, and programs for low-income Americans, if the super committee could not cut a deal.

[Check out our collection of political cartoons on defense spending.]

The super committee failed. It refused to find savings in reforming the big three drivers of debt: Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. The Big Three account for about 60 percent of all federal spending today and are in dire need of reform. Defense spending consumes less than one fifth of the federal budget.

Liberals on the super committee tried to extort tax increases out of Republicans as the price for avoiding automatic defense cuts. Over the next 10 years, defense is scheduled for at least $600 billion in automatic cuts. This comes at a time when President Obama is proposing further deep cuts to the Department of Defense.

Although this nation faces a dramatic challenge to control approximately $15.6 trillion in debt, gutting defense or increasing taxes would damage America's financial and national security. The Obama policy of peace through apology stands in stark contrast to Ronald Reagan's vision of peace through strength. We still are a nation in conflict in Afghanistan with forces deployed in other nations worldwide. We also have a president who is intent on downsizing troop levels and giving away strategic advantages in missile defense to a re-emerging hostile regime in Russia. Maybe a Nobel "appeasement" Prize is in order for President Obama.

[See pictures of U.S. Military Power in the Persian Gulf.]

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan crafted a budget that garnered majority support in the House of Representatives. Ryan's budget plan repeals scheduled cuts to defense spending and suspends the defense sequester for a year.

America may be a global power in decline if these automatic cuts move forward. Congress should find ways to gut and slash waste fraud and abuse in government programs before cutting defense. Maybe President Obama should stop subsidizing failed green energy companies such as Solyndra and giving away $10,000 dollar tax credits to rich liberals so they can buy expensive electric cars.

The scheduled cuts to defense should be repealed. Americans would feel much better about defense cuts if we were not at war and if the federal government did a better job of finding savings in programs not authorized by the Constitution.

Brian Darling

About Brian Darling Senior Fellow for Government Studies at the Heritage Foundation

Tags
deficit and national debt
federal budget
defense spending
Department of Defense

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