The Corner

Cut Defense?

Here is a good bit from the Project for a New American Century on why GOP-proposed defense cuts are a bad idea. They would also be atrocious politics, giving John Kerry a lot of cover as he defends his record of supporting defense cuts:

“If congressional ‘budget hawks’ have their way, there will be cuts made to the Bush administration’s defense spending package. Last week, the Republican-controlled Senate Budget Committee voted to slice $7 billion from the Pentagon’s FY 2005 budget. The ostensible reason for the reduction is the large federal deficit. With the national defense budget authority up by nearly $90 billion since 2001, the presumption is that there is room to cut.

But this is not the case. Adjusted for inflation, the $423 billion in defense budget authority requested for FY 2005 is only 15% more than the FY 2001 total. This increase is remarkably small given the fact that, during this period, the U.S. has fought two wars and is still engaged in major military operations in two theaters. Moreover, a considerable percentage of the increase in defense spending has gone to paying personnel, benefits and health costs. Compared with the Reagan-era budget ramp up in the early 1980s, a far smaller amount of today’s increases has gone to procuring new equipment and replacing aging infrastructure. Indeed, a close analysis of the administration’s defense budget reveals that current procurement plans – for new ships, planes, satellites, and missiles – cannot be supported by projected budget totals in the coming years. Add to this the fact that the active-duty military is too small to carry out the grand strategy the White House has adopted for the post-9/11 world, and one is left to conclude that Congress should be lobbying the White House to increase the Pentagon’s budget, not to cut it.

Even today, America’s defense burden is low – accounting for less than 4% of the GDP and less than 20% of the federal budget. (During the Reagan build-up, the comparable numbers were over 6% and 27%, respectively.) Members of Congress looking to trim the deficit should first take a hard look at other elements of the federal budget. With the nation at war, cutting defense should be the last thing on their minds.”

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