February 12, 2009 | News Releases on Federal Budget
WASHINGTON, February 12, 2009-"This is a Congressional spending resolution that is vital for America. There is a huge shortfall between what the military is spending and what it needs to spend." That's how former Senator Jim Talent, a top defense policy analyst at The Heritage Foundation, reacted to the introduction of a joint resolution committing Congress to fund defense at current levels for 10 years.
The resolution, introduced today by Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) and Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), calls for Congress to commit to a sustained annual investment in defense preparedness that would equal 4 percent of GDP-approximately $580 billion in '08 dollars.
The filing comes at a time when Congress is poised to approve a mammoth $789 billion stimulus package. That bill follows on the heels of last fall's $700 billion bail-out bill and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's plan to spend $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion more to bail out banks.
A former member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Talent said, "I hope no one in WASHINGTON has the gall to say that this resolution is unaffordable. If the President and Congress can spend a trillion dollars on 'make-work' projects they can fund the vital needs of American security."
Talent called a 4 percent investment level "essential" if the Pentagon is to "recapitalize and modernize so that our troops can continue to protect American interests." Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have seriously depleted America's military supplies and equipment, he noted. "National Guard Armories stand vacant, their trucks used up or cannibalized for parts by troops in the field. Yet lawmakers tell the military to cut back while they approve a trillion dollars in spending supposedly to stimulate the economy. It makes no sense."
Talent warned that reinvestment in defense forces could not be safely postponed. "We have Air Force pilots flying planes built 20 years before they were born. We have a Navy with half the number of ships it had 20 years again. Many of our weapons and systems are worn out or, worse, obsolete. Our military is in danger of becoming a hollow force," he said.
"The stimulus bill carves out $448 million to build a new building for Homeland Security, and another $248 million to furnish it. Meanwhile our troops in Afghanistan are scrounging for spare parts just to keep their Humvees rolling," Talent observed.
"Senator Inhofe and Representative Franks are doing America a tremendous service because the safety of America is literally at stake," Talent added. To protect the country, he said, "Congress will have to maintain defense spending at the levels established in the Inhofe-Franks resolution."