The conservatives write that ignoring “the burden military spending places on the taxpayers” promotes an “ethos” of “reckless spending.” They conclude that “any such Department of Defense favoritism would signal that the new Congress is not serious about fiscal responsibility and not ready to lead.” They end their letter by writing, “We call on you to lead the crusade for a new era of responsibility – one that knows no sacred cows“:We write to urge you to institute principled spending reform that rejects the notion that spending cuts can be avoided in certain parts of the federal budget. Department of Defense spending, in particular, has been provided protected status that has isolated it from serious scrutiny and allowed the Pentagon to waste billions in taxpayer money. A new Congress, with a clear mandate to cut spending and the size of government, should signal its fiscal resolve by proposing cuts for all federal spending.
Ignoring the burden military spending places on the taxpayers promotes the same reckless spending ethos that led to failed “stimulus” policies, government bailouts and a prolonged economic recession. Leadership on spending requires commitment that aims to permanently change the bias toward profligacy, not simply stem the tide in the short-term. True fiscal stewards cannot eschew real spending reform by protecting pet projects in the federal budget.
Any such Department of Defense favoritism would signal that the new Congress is not serious about fiscal responsibility and not ready to lead. As we enter a new Congress and search for ways to significantly decrease the size of government, we call on you to lead the crusade for a new era of responsibility – one that knows no sacred cows.
Conservative leaders are right to call for reining in defense spending to battle the deficit. The defense budget for FY2010 is a whopping $533.8 billion, larger than the 2008 GDP of 116 countries. And the Department of Defense has been a major factor in the growth of the budget deficit, accounting for 65 percent of the discretionary spending increase since 2001.
While numerous Republican legislators have endorsed cutting defense spending as one way to reduce the budget deficit, it is unclear if the GOP leadership will endorse such a plan. Unfortunately, in the GOP’s much-touted “Pledge For America,” Republican leaders explicitly exempted defense-related spending from waste-trimming. Yet many analysts do believe that the tea party-progressive coalition will successfully start to rein in defense spending.
We've now been Afghanistan longer than the Soviet Union was, and we all know what happened to the Soviet Union in the aftermath of its misadventure in Afghanistan. We're still spending billions in Iraq (and what ABOUT that $9 billion that just "disappeared"? Where was the outrage about that on the Republican right?). We're still fighting wars without end, to the tune of over $1 trillion a year. For the most part, even with all the talk about Americans tightening their belts, only two industries have been exempt from such talk: banking and defense contractors. It remains to be seen if the Tea Partier in the street shares the willingness of some of the people he elected to take on the sacred cows of Raytheon and Lockheed-Martin; if he's willing to let go of the rah-rah flag waving that has given the Department of Defense a blank check since the 1960's and even more so since the 9/11 attacks.
But this is now two areas, both related to national security, in which the Tea Party right and the progressive left have common ground? Can we find more? And if so, can we also put an end to the stranglehold of corporate cash over our government so that it works for the people again?