Pork With Guns

 

The War Is Making You Poor Act, explains E.D. Kain at NRO, would carve “$159 billion of pork from the defense budget and give 90 percent of that money back to taxpayers. The remaining 10 percent would go toward trimming the national debt. For fiscal conservatives,” Kain argues, “this should be a welcome piece of legislation.”

In fact, judging by the many reactions around the Web, it might actually be a semi-popular, bipartisan bill that would at once cut back the national debt and put more tax dollars in Americans’ pockets. Republicans have a chance to lead this effort in the Senate. Indeed, Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn is talking about scaling back the defense budget […]. America already spends far more than the rest of the developed world on its national security. Trimming some pork from that figure would not leave Americans defenseless.

How’s this for a catchphrase: Keep America in Fighting Trim!

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  1. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Sorry. But I think this represents everything that makes Americans cynical about Washington all rolled up in a neat, pandering little package. So now we have to applaud them for doing what they are supposed to do anyway?

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  2. Profile Photo Member
    @

    Not all, but some conservatives give me the impression that they believe defense spending should be virtually exempt from critical scrutiny. Its about time that defense spending was cut. Spending on armaments and war-making can bankrupt a nation as easily as spending on social welfare programs. I’m an E-4 and would hate to think that my presence in the reserves was a liability instead of an asset.

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  3. Profile Photo Inactive
    @SteveMacDonald

    I look at defense dept. pork the same way I looked at the $X Billion corruption/waste elimination in health care. we all know at least some of it is there but if we really knew how to eliminate it, we would have done so already.

    We are currently scaling down a war in Iraq and ramping up involvement in Afghanistan. We have bright red hot spots in Iran and Korea, with other (red) significant threats in Eastern Europe and Latin America – & amber in a few African countries. Our navy is at its lowest level of ship coverage in my lifetime. Our airforce fleet is approaching antique – F15,16,18 growing OLD and the B52 from the 60s.

    in addition we face a terrorist threat that may/does require a beefed up anti missile defense capability to protect us from EMT.

    How about this idea? protect the country from it’s threats, protect the borders, regulate interstate commerce and stop doing most of the rest. We need to have a state dept. and some others – but would anything happen except improved efficiency/productivity if we eliminated most of the rest? i don’t think so.

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  4. Profile Photo Contributor
    @GeorgeSavage
    James Poulos, Ed.: The War Is Making You Poor Act, explains E.D. Kain at NRO, would carve “$159 billion of pork from the defense budget and give 90 percent of that money back to taxpayers. The remaining 10 percent would go toward trimming the national debt. For fiscal conservatives,” Kain argues, “this should be a welcome piece of legislation.”

    No thanks. How about first we pass a “Stimulus, TARP, Government-Run Healthcare, and Financial Regulation are Making You Poor Act”? Let’s tackle defense department “waste” once we zero out the Keynesian flapdoodle added in the past 24 months or so.

    The inexorable logic of the democratic welfare state is to cut defense — a core government responsibility — to finance large-scale vote-buying via income redistribution. The United Kingdom and our other Nato allies had the United States as a strategic backstop. What country will likewise look out for us?

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  5. Profile Photo Inactive
    @MNJohnnie

    Brilliant notion.

    Congress knows Defense is the place to put all it’s unpopular pork barrel spending since hardly anyone dares vote against it.

    If Conservatives are serious about reigning in spending it would be perfect PR to start with what they are seen as championing and dare the Dems to come up with matching “:sacrifice” by finding matching spending cuts from their budgetary sacred cows like the Departments of Energy or Education or Interior.

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  6. Profile Photo Member
    @DuaneOyen

    George has it right, I add some necessary explanation:

    1) A major reason the US spends more than other countries is that we are the lone adults remaining- someone has to do it. Wishing it away doesn’t work.

    2) Second- we pay our troops. They don’t get rich, but they earn a lot more than personnel in other countries

    3) We “waste” money on readiness; subsidizing “idle’ capacity because of what we have learned the hard way when we didn’t, for example the obsolete tanks in Korea in 1950 after we had shut down all of our capability after WWII

    4) Big issue- safety. Our weapons and munitions cost at least double what others pay because it is unacceptable for us to blow up our people with our own stuff. Look at our standards for safe-arm mechanisms, for example.

    By all means, kill the pork wherever it is really pork. But often there are as many Congressional adders in the budget for proper reasons as for pork; the US Air Force tried every year to kill the A-10 Warthog CAS aircraft so they could spend the cash on silk-scarf fly-boy toys.

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  7. Profile Photo Member
    @

    George,

    A strain of Keynesian economic “thought” champions non-defense related military spending as an alleged stimulant of economic growth. Countering policies supported by Keynesian beliefs inevitably involves cutting military spending to some degree, for there no doubt are many items within the military budget that are defended primarily with appeals to the alleged economic benefits they provide, e.g., jobs, etc. I’m less concerned with the order in which Keynesian policies are abolished, as long as they are abolished eventually and taxpayers are reimbursed. I’d hate to have the military – a legitimate institution – become a racket like the welfarist side of the federal government.

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  8. Profile Photo Contributor
    @AdamFreedman

    Rather than a one-time “trim the fat” bill, I think it would be better to change the budgeting process to keep Congress from adding items that the Pentagon never asked for. How about a supermajority requirement any time Congress wants to increase the quantity of an item requested by DOD, or add a new item not requested by DOD. I remember back in the 1980s, every defense appropriations included a small fleet of 10-ton trucks that just happened to be manufactured in the district of Les Aspin (then chairman of the House Armed Services Committee).

    By the way, James: when I saw your headline, I thought you were referring to the Indian Mutiny, which was of course caused by rifle cartridges covered in pork fat.

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  9. Profile Photo Member
    @DuaneOyen

    Adam, the budgeting process needs to be changed for all spending- not just DoD- and to truly reflect zero-based/auto-sunsetting appropriations, as opposed to the “current services baseline”. But I am not at all sanguine about purely leaving this stuff up to the military brass.

    In the ’70’s, especially with Carter, we completely ignored the military, much as Obama does now. In the ’80’s, Casper Weinberger didn’t challenge the Services on much of anything, and they went a wild on every dream they had ever had, necessary or not. In the ’90’s, Clinton used the DoD budget as a slush fund for every non-DoD purpose he could find a rationale to match- sort of the appropriations equivalent of the Commerce Clause (TRP, ATP, breast cancer research, community development, etc.)

    In actuality, the one who got it most right was Rumsfeld- and you can tell that by how popular he wasn’t with the Service chiefs and Secretaries. 1) Care about national defense and getting it right, and 2) Tell the brass “no” if their dreams don’t fit today’s real world (Crusader SPH).

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  10. Profile Photo Contributor
    @JamesPoulos
    George Savage: No thanks. How about first we pass a “Stimulus, TARP, Government-Run Healthcare, and Financial Regulation are Making You Poor Act”? Let’s tackle defense department “waste” once we zero out the Keynesian flapdoodle added in the past 24 months or so.

    I certainly have no objection to that Act, either, George! But we might not have the luxury of that sequencing. I do remember sitting down for a vast right wing breakfast with Jeb Hensarling (among others), and Hensarling explaining that Reagan had given the Dems whatever they wanted on domestic spending in order to get whatever he wanted on military spending, and that this was a model from which Republicans needed not deviate one iota. I’m not sure that’s the best way to characterize Reagan’s approach, but I’m persuaded it’s the wrong one to take today. I’d think Republicans could find some legitimate joy in depriving Democrats of a bludgeon (“Republicans won’t cut a dollar of military spending!”) which they have put to double duty as a crutch.

    And yes, Duane — I agree Rumsfeld was way more right than wrong on this point.

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  11. Profile Photo Member
    @MarkWilson
    Duane Oyen: A major reason the US spends more than other countries is that we are the lone adults remaining- someone has to do it. Wishing it away doesn’t work. · Jun 29 at 11:07am

    And let’s not forget R&D. The US DOD funds the development of new military technology, which is then exported to our allies. I doubt the R&D costs are recovered by the DOD through export sales.

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  12. Profile Photo Inactive
    @OttomanUmpire

    Welcome back, Duane! We’ve missed you around here.

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  13. Profile Photo Member
    @DuaneOyen
    Ottoman Umpire: Welcome back, Duane! We’ve missed you around here. · Jun 29 at 8:34pm

    Thank you, thank you. I was off exploring the world of post-Communism in Vietnam and China, which countries are both more free-market than Bloomberg’s NY or Pelosi’s SF. The in-room internet connections in Saigon are not quite as reliable as they are in Minnesota, so I was more or less compelled to go on hiatus.

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