Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint-Chiefs-of-Staff chair Admiral Mike Mullen are already shrieking like neurotic lapdogs confronted with a nail-clipping… I mean, “warn[ing] of dire consequences if the Pentagon is forced to make cuts to its budget beyond the $400 billion in savings planned for the next decade… “
“We’re already taking our share of the discretionary cuts as part of this debt-ceiling agreement, and those are going to be tough enough,” Panetta told reporters in his first news conference as defense secretary. “I think anything beyond that would damage our national defense.” […]
Defense spending represents about half of the federal government’s discretionary spending, and the military’s budget has increased by more than 70 percent since 2001. Although the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the Pentagon upward of $1 trillion, nearly half of the growth in defense spending in the past decade has been unrelated to the wars. […]
Mullen, who just returned from a trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, said the partisan fight over debt reduction had fueled worries among the troops that they might not be paid on time.
“Our men and women down range have enough to worry about just getting their job done,” Mullen said. “They shouldn’t also be concerned about whether or not they will be paid to do that job or whether or not their families will continue to get the support they need during long absences. We can do better than that, as a military and as a nation.”
Emphasis mine. Hey, if hostage-taking works for Republicans, why shouldn’t the valiant REMFs of the world’s most expensive military make it another weapon in its arsenal?
Doghouse Riley talks about “The Battle Elephant in the Room“:
Medicare–it provides less than half the medical expenses of its beneficiaries, the elderly and the disabled–is 13% of the Federal budget. Total Medicare spending in 2009 was $484 billion. In 2009 the total interest on the National Debt attributable to military spending was $390 billion. That’s the interest we pay on all things military (including VA costs and military pensions) for having acted, since 1946, as though it were perpetually 1944.
Our ten Nimitz-class supercarriers represent a $450 billion collection of holes in the ocean in construction costs alone; they’re scheduled to be replaced by 2040 by an equal number of Gerald Ford-class hulks at twice the cost, assuming you believe 2005 estimates, which you shouldn’t. That’s construction costs. Not development, nor maintenance, nor upgrades, attendant fleet, staffing, planes, aviation fuel, or the cost someone will eventually bear to do something with the twin reactors when we don’t need ’em anymore. That’s our supercarrier Navy. No one else in the world has any. Their role is to intimidate tenth-rate military powers, since we haven’t figured out how to invade any on the ground…
Medicare, like Social Security, is a trust. You pay a separate tax bill into the fund. Eliminate it altogether and you get that portion of your taxes back, and good luck saving it for when you can’t work. This has been lumped into the “social spending” category–public health, hospitals, schools–by the American Right and Democratic centrists since the Vietnam war, in order to insist it was The Great Society, and not a wasteful and useless jungle conflict, which was destroying the US economy. It’s an argument disguised as a fact, and apparently no one born after the Nixon administration can be bothered to notice. Fer chrissakes, we spent nearly $700 billion on “Defense” in 2010 not including the costs of however many wars we’re in now, and that’s if you believe it’s the one thing the government doesn’t lie about…
Look, children: you’ve been sold a bill of goods, including the confusion of the honor of military service with the less-that-honorable uses to which it’s been put over the last sixty years. You got sold the idea that the war in Vietnam was divisive because dirty hippies spit on returning veterans, and not because the goddam thing was a lie from beginning to end which a large portion of the citizenry slowly came to realize, and object to. There’s nothing in this country so bloated and wasteful as our military budget; there’s no government expenditure anywhere else in the world that begins to match it. Caring for our elderly and disabled citizens is not a discretionary item; it’s a measure of our humanity.
I’m not a pacifist. I agree we should Support Our Troops, and the first step towards doing that would be not sending them into harm’s way because some politician wants to win a penis-measuring contest or needs an excuse to start reading everyone’s email or thinks that a little ‘military action’ might substitute for a jobs program. And pretending that the ground troops’ paychecks are at risk every time somebody looks askance at Congressman Shakedown’s latest home-district boondoggle or some PNAC lobbyist’s paradigm-shifting proposal to introduce democracywhiskeysexxy to some unfortunate corner of the globe is the very opposite of Respecting Our Brave Defenders.