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Defending American defense

Despite spending more money on defense than the rest of the world combined, the US military budget appears untouchable as it continues to grow and receive government support.
Those fighting hardest for the budget are supported by companies that provide goods and services for the military.High level officials from the military were on Capitol Hill recently to defend the military budget.US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff appeared before the House Armed Services committee to ask Congress not to touch their money.“It is my judgment that the Department of Defense needs an appropriation of at least $540 billion for FY2011 for US military to properly carry out its mission, maintain readiness and prepare for the future,” said Gates, who also discussed cuts he’s made to the military budget, on programs no longer needed.However, what is not widely known is that most of the $78 billion he’s cut would not take place until 2014 and 2015, when there will be a new secretary of defense and possibly a new president.Gates said funding is still needed to “support the US military’s size, reach and fighting strength despite a declining rate of growth and eventual flattening of the defense budget over the next five years.”As far as that “flattening” budget, experts said in 2015 the military budget will still be about $100 billion larger than the Bush years and about $50 billion more than the Reagan years.Professor of Economics Emeritus at University of Massachusetts Richard Wolff said there’s a simple reason for this:“All the beneficiaries of government spending, the companies that get subsidies, the military producers who sell goods to the government, the working people that get some benefits, even if they’re small all of them have mobilized to hold on to what they get, to make it politically costly for any congressman or woman to go against them.”Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who has fought cuts tooth and nail.“There will be winners and losers in this process and tough choices must be made but I will not support initiatives that leave our military less capable and less ready to fight,” McKeon said.Interestingly, McKeon’s top campaign contributions came from the following companies:Lockheed Martin, Northup Grumman, Boeing and General Dynamics, one of many examples of lawmakers legislating for their donors.As far as the military budget, it’s not just money that goes to fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.It also funds more than 800 military bases around the world, including in places like the Marshall Islands.The US Army also spends $7 million sponsoring NASCAR.Items like this are rarely mentioned, and instead – pleas for money come cloaked in the name of life or death.“Drastic reductions in the size and strength of the U.S. Military make armed conflict all the more likely with an unacceptably high cost in American blood and treasure,” Gates said.But some argue the real treasure lies with those with the real power.“It’s as simple as the handwriting on the wall,” said Gerald Celente, Publisher of the Trends Journal and Director of the Trends Research Institute.“It’s called the military industrial complex is in charge of the nation.”It seems that until that changes there will be an invisible cloak around the Pentagon that will allow no one to come inside, and especially to touch its budget.What you will see is other things being sacrificed; funding that is cut from basic services, roads not repaired, people who are forced on the street, and a continuing decline in the health, education and quality of American daily life.According to the National Coordinator for the A.N.S.W.E.R. Coalition Brian Becker, there is an increase in Defense spending while poor people and working families are bearing the burden of the social budget cuts.“The issue here is not just defense itself; it’s rather the defense contractors, which is the biggest corporations in the US,” he said.He added, “There is always a new enemy, some great scare, some catastrophe looming unless the defense industry , war industry reallygets all it wants, so this country is not a wellfare state , as the conservatives claim. It’s a war-fare state.”Becker believes the Obama administration wants to change the face of the US to be even more militarized.