Congressmen call for $1 trillion dollars in US military cuts
US congressmen Barney Frank (D-Mass) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) are urging their fellow lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to push for cuts in military spending.
The congressmen drafted a letter to US President Barack Obama’s Commission on Deficit Reduction calling for a $1 trillion dollar reduction in US military spending. Currently the letter has ten co-signatories, but they are seeking more.
Frank, as the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, also recently commissioned his own bipartisan group to look into ways to reduce America's military budget.
“I think this is a very good idea, I don’t know how easy this will be to sell to other people in Washington where the military budget is something of a sacred cow,” said Max Fraad Wolff, an economist at The New School.
Wolff said he does not think the measure has much of a chance, but there is a long history of talking about cuts rather than actually enacting them.
Obama has said he wants to cut the budget, however he has yet to do anything about it.
“Nobody wants to be the president or the congressperson who cuts homeland security or cuts the military if there is than a major attack and they’ll be defeated by their opponent who will run against them saying this person is soft on terrorist or this person does not care about keeping America safe,” said Wolff.
He explained that the military and pentagon budget has become a no-go political area that elected officials avoid.
One area of cuts targeted is contract spending. Wolff argued that it is very realistic to cut contract spending and the government should consider doing so. Contract spending is often lavish and unneeded. Some expenses in military essential, but not all, he argued.
“Tens of billions of dollars over a five year period could be cut with no measurable effect on the fighting capability or the security measures available to US uniformed personal,” said Wolff
In addition to contractor cuts, cutting old Cold War era policies and programs would also save money. The US government still spends millions every year to get ready for "mythical war" in Eastern Europe that is no longer necessary to prepare for.
Wolff also pointed out that when cuts are made to military spending, it will affect both US companies and US jobs. It is not an easy fact to accept, he said, but sometimes it is necessary.
Paul Craig Roberts, a former Reagan administration official, argued that cutting the military budget is a good idea, but that cuts are not likely to occur. It is unlikely many congressional members will add their name to the letter.
“The military security complex is one of the main contributors to political campaigns and to sign that letter you basically mean you are cutting yourself off from a very large and important source of campaign funding,” he said.
He added however, “I hope I’m wrong”. Roberts argued that the military budget is too large and the most obvious of places to target for deficit reduction. He said, even without the ongoing wars, the US military budget is “far too large.”
“We just don’t need that type of a so-called defense. That’s mainly for the munitions industries. It’s a way of taking taxpayers’ money and turning it into profits for a few munitions corporations and it should be stopped,” said Roberts.
Iraq War veteran and radio host Adam Kokesh said it is completely possible to cut military funding without risking American troops and national security.
He said however that the mere idea that Obama has a Commission on Deficit Reduction is contradictory.
“It is kinda like the mafia having commission on non-violent communications or the KKK having a commission on racial harmony or McDonald’s having a commission on cow welfare. The idea is absurd to begin with,” said Kokesh.
He said the bipartisan approach to call for a cut is important and a positive step in government fiscal responsibility.
Kokesh was not surprised by the smaller number of co-signers, bit believes there will be a little more support from others congress and hopes it does eventually challenge military spending. He doubts however it will make a large impact anytime soon because of the vast size of the military's influence.