Battleland

Ryan’s Hope: Don’t Cut Military Spending So Deeply

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Shannon Stapleton / REUTERS

Republican U.S. presidential candidate Mitt Romney introduces U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan as his vice-presidential running mate during a campaign event at the retired battleship USS Wisconsin in Norfolk, Virginia August 11, 2012.

Somehow it seemed fitting – for the final member of the first pair of major-party tickets in nearly a century lacking anyone with military experience – for Mitt Romney to introduce his vice presidential pick, Paul Ryan, aboard the battleship USS Wisconsin.

After all, Ryan is a congressman from southeastern Wisconsin. He holds the seat occupied from 1971 to 1993 by the late Democrat Les Aspin, who spent a sad year as President Clinton’s first defense secretary before dying in 1995. But battleships also are obsolete: there are no longer any in the U.S. Navy, and the Romney-Ryan ticket was launched from a floating museum.

Romney’s choice shows the campaign will be fought over economics and the role of government, not foreign affairs or defense-spending levels. In part, that’s a recognition that Obama gets pretty good grades – especially for a Democrat – in these areas, notably for dispatching SEALs to kill Osama bin Laden and for winding down the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Both Romney and his running mate want to spend more on the military than President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. The GOP team makes a valid point: it is soaring spending on entitlements – Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – that is driving the deficit, not defense spending. And while they are right, the public still wants to cut defense spending more than entitlements, beyond the $487 billion already sliced by the Obama Administration over the coming decade.

Romney and his running mate are headed the other way. Romney has gone so far as to embrace some Republicans’ call to peg defense spending at 4% of the nation’s gross domestic product, boosting defense spending by $100 billion, or nearly 20%, in 2013.

Such a plan would make defense budgets more predictable, and that could lead to more efficient procurement, advocates say. Opponents say linking military spending to GDP is wrong – military spending should be linked to the threats the country faces.

“Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan both respect members of our military who sacrifice so much to defend our freedoms,” the campaign said in a statement. “They share the view that America’s leadership position in the world is based on a robust national defense, strengthened relationships with our allies and a philosophy of peace through strength,” echoing a phrase used by Ronald Reagan during his 1980s military buildup. But that, of course, was during the Cold War, and it worked – the Soviet Union went out of business. Yet, the U.S. military spends more today per year than it did during the Cold War, but there is no superpower rival to outspend.

Ryan, for his part, has called for cutting Obama’s proposed cuts – got it? – in half, from his seat as chairman of the House Budget Committee. “This budget funds defense at levels that keep America safe by providing $554 billion for the next fiscal year — $6.2 trillion over the next decade – for national defense spending, an amount that is consistent with America’s military goals and strategies,” Ryan’s latest budget plan says. That’s only marginally more than the $551 billion Obama sought, not including $88 billion both include for the Afghan war. “Over the ten-year period covered by the budget resolution, this budget restores about half of the funding cut by the President and ensures that the defense budget grows in real terms in each year –providing adequate funding to maintain a robust end-strength and to address the years of forgone equipment modernization.”

The Romney campaign dismissed the ticket’s lack of military experience. “The ticket is no different that Obama and Biden,” the Romney campaign’s talking points say of its lack of military experience.

It’s a safe bet that’s the last time the campaign notes the two tickets’  similarities.

5 comments
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Kevin Brent
Kevin Brent

The author needs to just say no to crack. This is not Nazi Germany and the Founding Fathers had a reason for not making it a requirement to have been in the military to be President or Vice President. Get your fascism in check Thompson.

Jim O'Neill
Jim O'Neill

Under Clinton, the federal government had a surplus and had begun to pay down the national debt.  It accomplished that with most of the social programs we have today. 

The Bush jr tax cuts did away with the surplus and then two wars, one optional, created huge deficits.  Then the Great Recession dug us deeper into debt because during recessions, government spending goes up and revenues go down. So we are up to our eye balls in debt.

I agree with Republcans that spending needs to be cut but I also think that revenue needs to be increased.  When you need more revenue, you have to go where the money is and you cannot get it out of the poor.  The wealthy and middle class will eventually have to pony up and help balance the budget and begin to pay down the debt again.

That said, I am tired of the United States being the policeman of the world.  When we try t fix the world, we get our young men and women killed and wounded.  We spend billions, if not trillions.  We get the bill for our interference but we do not even get the appreciation of the world for what we do.  In the end, the world does what it was going to do anyway.

We need a strong military to defend this country but what we maintain is a global police force and we cannot afford it.  What President Obama did in Libya was the right way to handle a situation.  Line up allies, make sure they are going to do their part and then only provide the help that is absolutely necessary.  In Libya, we and our allies, only provided air support and no Americans got killed.  If we had sent in troops they would still be there and still be getting killed.  This operation also cost us less and our allies paid their costs.

Compare that with "Shock and Awe" in Iraq and the mess we got ourselves into in Afghanistan. 

My point is this:  When a country maintains too large of a military, I believe that country is more willing to go to war.  It almost encourages the use of that force.  So in a way, too large of a military actually decreases a country's chance for peace.  We need to cut spending and the military needs to accept much of those cuts.  Defend the United States and stop fixing the world.

bibleverse1
bibleverse1

Cuts are necessary to the entitlements but unless you take from current seniors and those about to be retirement age in 10 years you won't get too much bang from those numbers. Defense spending needs to be more efficient the levels are too bad the waste is out of control.

kbergm
kbergm

 Exactly, neither will get much from just taxing the wealthy, but its politics,

its kinda like a doctor telling a patient he needs a certain medication and regime, but liberals so its too much medicine, conservatives say too little, or this and that, nobody of course likes to go for surgery or medicine if they don't have to, so both parties try to blame this and that to appeal to folks.

In other words politicians from both parties are not honest and have special interests in mine, and won't give you the doctor's honest unbiased opinion.


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