On this Veteran’s Day 2011, our thoughts should turn once again toward our military, who find themselves busier than they have been in recent memory. Despite the tempo of current operations, our president appears determined to govern a peacetime force by way of withdrawal and drawback.
If the budget committee fails to reach an agreement, the military stands to be cut by epic proportions, which they seem poised to do, barring any eleventh-hour deal. These cuts should come as no surprise to anyone considering that this is what usually happens when a liberal Democrat is in the Oval Office.
With dollar signs in their eyes, liberals ignore the federal government’s core responsibility of defending its citizens, and instead salivate over the opportunity to get their hands on what they perceive as the Pentagon’s “pot of gold.”
Military recruitment requirement numbers are already down, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been given a deadline from on high to slash defense spending by $450 billion. According to the New York Times, Panetta described “the president as closely involved” in the discussions to reduce Pentagon spending, which may include a reduction in military medical and retirement benefits, additional base closings, pulling troops out of Europe, cutting the nuclear arsenal, reducing the overall troop force, and reducing weapon purchases.
It is customary to reduce defense spending between wars. Budget hawks from both sides of the isle would agree that trimming excess fat is necessary, but, when it comes to defense spending, cuts should be painstakingly executed, considering that the War on Terror is ongoing, and defense spending is not the reason for America’s current economic predicament.
In fact, defense spending has gone down, according to House Committee on the Budget Chairman Paul Ryan, R-WI. In his “Pathway to Prosperity” budget, Ryan says it is essential to put defense spending into perspective. “Defense spending as a share of the budget has fallen from around 25 percent thirty years ago to around 20 percent today. Like all categories of government spending, defense spending should be executed with greater efficiency and accountability. But responsible budgeting must never lose sight of the fact that the first responsibility of federal government is to provide for the defense of the nation.”
Unlike Ryan, and particularly like former president Bill Clinton, president Obama views the defense budget as a potential Pentagon windfall. Liberals fail to make the connection between gutted defense spending and compromised military readiness.
Bush 41 was in the process of making sensible defense budget cuts when he passed the baton on to Clinton. In contrast, Clinton slashed troop numbers by more than half-a-million and removed $50 billion (inflation adjusted) in defense spending while at the same time dramatically increasing the operational tempo, thus sending fatigued troops into harm’s way without the equipment and support they needed to get the job done. This myopic view of defense spending left our military with serious morale and readiness issues, thereby handing off a military to his successor that paled in comparison to what Clinton inherited from Bush 41.
Speaking about Clinton’s foreign policy during a radio interview in 1998, former Reagan Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger said, “Mr. Clinton doesn’t understand the military. He doesn’t like the military except when he has to use it.” Weinberger’s words rings true today describing both this administration’s and liberals’ love-hate relationship with our military. They love the military budget – just as long as it can be redirected to fund entitlement spending. And, they love the troops – just as long as they all salute sharply when told to do more than ever before with less resources.