Even though the U.S. military spends more than 6 times that of our next competitor (China), the GOP is still pushing the narrative that any more cuts in spending to the Pentagon’s budget would be “disastrous” and spell “doomsday” for the military. The Hill reports House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif) said he’d even be willing to support tax increases before more cuts to the military’s budget. Predictably, 13 freshmen Republicans on McKeon’s panel, many of which are Tea Party darlings, feel “enough is enough” and believe federal spending cuts need to come from entitlement programs.
McKeon said “It’s time to focus our fiscal restraint on the driver of our debt, not the protector of our prosperity.”
In addition to McKeon’s doomsday forecasting, Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) also voiced concerns earlier this month regarding proposed defense spending cuts. In a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, Chambliss warned that a “draconian budget cutting exercise” towards the F-35 fighter program would risk the United States’ advantage in aerial warfare. At present, the U.S. Has a 20 to 1 advantage in airpower over China, even without the most expensive plane in U.S. History.
Much like the Bank of America CEO who has most of his fortune staked in Bank of America stock and signed 30,000 pink slips to bolster profits, the wolves are in charge of the henhouse when it comes to defense spending. Since 1994, Chambliss received nearly $100,000 in campaign contributions from Lockheed Martin’s PAC or individuals from the company, which is the prime contractor for the F-35. McKeon’s top 4 contributors in his reelection campaign this cycle are companies with big defense contracts, including Lockheed Martin.
Is it any wonder why politicians like Chambliss and McKeon ring the doomsday bell every time someone hints at cutting the military’s budget? And while a record number of Americans live below the poverty line, politicians like Buck and Saxby are more than willing to sacrifice what little social safety nets still exist, supposedly in the name of “protecting our prosperity.”
Many military officials are less than enthusiastic about the F-35 and other pet projects defense invested politicians love to tout. When former Defense Secretary Robert Gates put a 180 plane cap on the F-22 program, Senator Chambliss attempted to lobby Gates to lift it. Even though the Senate approved a $513 billion defense appropriations bill for 2012, Both Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told Pentagon acquisition chief Ashton Carter they would need input on additional spending cuts from the DOD.
The more the GOP whines about spending and rails against taxes while dodging real cuts to the military budget, the more they prove their only interest is in keeping themselves rich while the rest of America foots the bill. After all, shouldn’t we find better ways to spend $720 million the Pentagon paid in late fees for rented shipping containers used in Afghanistan and Iraq? Should we wonder where the $193 million military contractor KBR spent on personnel deemed unnecessary could’ve gone? If the GOP and other hawkish politicians are serious about fiscal responsibility, taking a long hard look in the black hole where billions of dollars go to waste would be a no brainer. However, it’s become painfully obvious that they’re more interested in protecting their own prosperity at our expense.