Obama plan cuts defense spending to pre-9/11 levels
Created on June 23, 2009
Needed: Adequate Resources for America's Core Defense
Only politicians determined to spend $1 billion a day to
"stimulate" the economy could balk at committing tens of millions
less than that to bolster our national defense.
But that's where the Obama administration and liberals in
Congress stand at this writing: Investing another $26 billion next
year to protect America isn't as important as putting American
taxpayers on the hook for trillions in dubious spending to take
over businesses and "create or save" jobs.
President Obama's defense budget for fiscal 2010 falls short of
providing sufficient resources for the nation's core defense
program. What's more, the administration's spending plan invites a
hard question: Is it forcing the Defense Department onto an
ill-advised diet that will deprive the U.S. military of modern
weapons and equipment?
The White House's own numbers anticipate cutting defense
spending within five years to slightly above 2001 levels as a
percentage of America's economic output -- and to pre-9/11 levels
within 10 years.
"The FY 2010 budget request fails to provide adequate funding
for the basic building blocks in the core defense program, which
are needed to protect national security over the long term."
assessment of Baker Spring, a leading authority on national
security and the defense budget at The Heritage Foundation.
"Fighting and winning the long war on terrorism will require a
sustained commitment to fund national defense programs," Spring says
in his new paper detailing shortcomings of the president's plan.
"The U.S. needs to fund defense programs that protect Americans and
friends and allies against ongoing threats from hostile states such
as Iran and North Korea, as well as potential threats such as the
one posed by a hostile China."
Since the Kennedy administration, annual defense spending has
averaged 5.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).
Once the Vietnam War wound down, the military budget didn't
approach 6 percent of GDP again until President Reagan's defense
buildup of the 1980s. The Clinton administration reduced defense
spending; it didn't climb again as a percentage of GDP until after
the terror attacks of 2001.
President Obama's plan allocates $562.8 billion to core defense,
an amount equivalent to 3.8 percent of GDP. Funding then is slated
to increase by about $10 billion a year over four years -- but
Spring notes that means no real growth after inflation.
"As a result, the core defense budget will fall to less than 3.3
percent of GDP in 2014," he writes.
So far, Congress generally has agreed with the administration's
plan. Two exceptions are Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. Trent
Franks (R-Ariz.), who introduced bills to commit the nation to
spending no less than 4 percent of GDP on core defense for 10
In real money, that would mean adding $26.4 billion to next
year's defense budget and a total of $397.4 billion through fiscal
The Pentagon's emphasis needs to be on "developing and deploying
the next generation of weapons and equipment that U.S. forces will
need to fight effectively," Spring says. Doing what's possible to protect America from missile attack, rather
than cutting $1.2 billion from that program, must be part of that
focus, he argues in a related paper.
It's a good time for Americans to consider: Should the defense
of their freedom be sacrificed to liberal lawmakers' pet causes and
to runaway automatic spending on Social Security, Medicare and
Medicaid -- not to mention a government-run health care program costing well
into the trillions?
"Growth in entitlement spending, not defense spending, created
the fiscal crisis facing the federal government," Spring says.
"Defense expenditures -- even spending 4 percent of GDP on defense
-- will not jeopardize either the health of the economy or the
prosperity of the American people."