To Avoid Defense Spending Cuts, Raise Taxes?

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Fellow Battleland contributor Mackenzie Eaglen of the Heritage Foundation argued last week in a Defense Daily article that the “Super Congress” is likely to side with cutting defense deeply rather than increase government revenue through tax increases to pay for current levels of defense spending (the biggest part of the discretionary federal budget):

Eaglen said the Joint Select Committee’s charter will force Republicans “to choose between no tax increases, no revenue whatsoever, and really steep defense cuts.”

“They don’t want to make that choice…but they’re still going to choose no tax increases over defense cuts, every time,” she added. “That’s just where the Republican party is today. It’s not the Republican party of (former president Ronald) Reagan.”

Given that President George W. Bush both took the nation into a major war of choice (Iraq) while cutting taxes, raising taxes while we’re still in two major wars (and involved in other conflicts) doesn’t seem too high of a price to pay while troops are willing to pay a much higher price with their lives.

But my problem is the Department of Defense doesn’t have a money problem, it has a discipline problem (which too much money has exacerbated). Take, for instance, the recent findings of an Army-chartered study on its weapons acquisitions. One of its findings:

Every year since 1996, the Army has spent more than $1 billion annually on programs that were ultimately cancelled. Since 2004, including FCS, $3.3B to $3.8B, or 35% to 42%, per year of Army DT&E funding has been lost to cancelled programs. The Army cannot afford to continue losing funds in this manner.