FLVCS Says It’s Time to Cut the Defense Budget

Florida Veterans for Common Sense Says It’s Time to Cut the Defense Budget

As the slow growth economy grinds on for most Americans, one economic segment is unlikely to feel the pain—the Department of Defense (DOD) and defense contractors.

Within the last month, the House of Representatives passed a super sized defense budget and most representatives voted to continue the folly in Afghanistan by funding the counterproductive war for another year. As a result, more soldiers will die and many more will incur lifelong health problems and disabilities such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The only military funding for Afghanistan should be for withdrawal.

In short, many representatives, often the very ones who yell the loudest about deficits, just voted to continue a counterproductive military operation, waste money and push us closer to the fiscal cliff.

The vote for the Defense Appropriation bill was so irresponsible that it funds weapon systems DOD didn’t want. Instead of evaluating actual defense requirements in terms of the actual threats, The House of Representatives mostly rubber stamped the Pentagon’s requested budget and added more. The bill includes such extravagances as unnecessary weapons systems, seventy-two million dollars for NASCAR and other sports sponsorships and nearly three-hundred eighty-eight million dollars for military bands.

The Pentagon doesn’t account for all of the money it spends and the result is predictable. The Final Forensic Audit Report of Iraq Reconstruction Funds found evidence of bribery, kickbacks, theft of government funds and property, inflated invoices, delivery of insufficient or inferior goods, and bid rigging. In March, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta testified to the Senate Budget Committee that it’s “crazy” that the department is still unable to audit its finances and he added, “That’s, frankly, something we owe the taxpayer.”

Congress should demand accountability for our bloated military expenditures. We now spend about fifty-seven percent of all discretionary federal spending on the military. This amount is more than the next twenty nations combined and most of them are friends and present no threat whatsoever. Potential enemies are few. In reality we have no peer competitor when it comes to military capability. Every potential adversary knows that one of our nuclear submarines can take out their largest cities. China spends less than one-third as much on defense and Russia spends about one-tenth as much.

Congress continues to hand out corporate welfare although many defense corporations have an abominable record of fraud and abuse. This month United Technologies admitted selling China software that helped Beijing develop its first modern military attack helicopter and Armet Armored Vehicles was indicted on charges that it falsely represented the level of protection provided by armored vehicles used by convoys in Iraq.

The defense industry and the Pentagon argue that if their vast government subsidy is cut, the economy will suffer and jobs will be lost. Although the argument has some merit, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Their argument is correct that Federal spending can boost economic activity and create jobs as it does for the defense industry. Yet, spending on the military and war is not the most effective means to create jobs with federal dollars. Military expenditures have a smaller lasting effect, or multiplier effect, than the same amount spent in other areas like health and education.

In short, we need to get our fiscal house in order by ending the Pentagon boondoggle. It’s unacceptable that DOD can’t account for the billions of dollars it receives and that defense companies so often defraud the government. We should scale back defense spending to a reasonable amount consistent with our security needs. Part of this savings can be used to invest in education, health, research and infrastructure. If we do so, we’ll get more bang for the buck and build a stronger America. If we maintain the present course, we’re walking closer to the fiscal cliff and a weaker America.

Florida Veterans for Common Sense, Inc., is a 501 (c) 4 non-profit/non-partisan organization. http://floridaveteransforcommonsense.org/cs/  email: Flveterans@aol.com

For more local coverage of the Sequestration Tour, see links below and consider sending a letter to the editor:

TAMPA, FLORIDA

John McCain criticizes looming defense cuts in Tampa

Elizabeth Behrman, Tampa Bay Times, July 31

“U.S. Sen. John McCain estimates that if proposed defense spending cuts go into effect Jan. 1, the state of Florida will lose about 42,000 jobs and about $3.6 billion.”

Submit LTE, limit 250-300 words: http://www.sptimes.com/letters/

GOP senators say federal budget cuts threaten MacDill

William March, The Tampa Tribune, July 31

“Three Republican senators brought the federal budget battle to Tampa on Monday in what they said was a nonpartisan effort to avoid “devastating” defense cuts but which carried overtones of political gamesmanship.”

Submit LTE (scroll halfway down homepage): http://tampatrib.com/

FAYETTEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA

Coverage:

John McCain to discuss military budget cuts in Fayetteville Monday

Henry Cuningham, Fayetteville Observer, July 28

“U.S. Sen. John McCain and two other U.S. senators will visit Fayetteville on Monday to ask people to tell Congress to put the brakes on military budget cuts scheduled to begin Jan. 1.”

Submit LTE, limit 250 words: http://fayobserver.com/opinion/letters

McCain, GOP senators warn of military cuts

Rob Christensen, News & Observer (Raleigh, NC), July 31

“Former GOP presidential candidate John McCain led a delegation of GOP senators Monday in urging Democratic President Barack Obama to reopen budget negotiations to avoid what he called “devastating” defense cuts.”

Submit LTE, limit 200 words: http://www.newsobserver.com/about/newsroom/editor/

John McCain, Lindsey Graham and Kelly Ayotte to hold Fayetteville town hall on potential military spending cuts

John Ramsey, Fayetteville Observer, July 27

“Three Senators, including former 2008 presidential candidate John McCain, will visit Fayetteville on Monday to speak about the “potentially devastating impact” of looming defense budget cuts.”

Submit LTE, limit 250 words: http://fayobserver.com/opinion/letters

Opinion:

Pitts: Senators McCain, Graham, Ayotte say defense cuts are dumb idea

Myron B. Pitts, Fayetteville Observer, July 31

“[Lindsay] Graham, McCain of Arizona, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, stopped in Fayetteville for the second of three stops Monday to sound the alarm about the potential cuts under a process called sequestration.”

Submit LTE, limit 250 words: http://fayobserver.com/opinion/letters

NORFOLK, VIRGINIA

GOP senators: Let’s compromise on defense cuts

Hugh Lessig, Norfolk Daily News, July 31

“At a town hall meeting Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina paused when talking about the possibility of deep defense cuts.”

Submit LTE to letters@dailypress.com

McCain, other GOP figures bring defense budget debate to Norfolk

Bill Bartel, The Virginian-Pilot, July 31

“The Washington debate over how to deal with automatic budget cuts of $1 trillion, including deep slashes in defense spending, came to Hampton Roads on Monday as three Republican senators urged the public to get involved.”

Submit LTE, limit 150 words, to letters@pilotonline.com

More information: http://hamptonroads.com/blogs/letters-editor-bletters

MERRIMACK, NEW HAMPSHIRE

Coverage:

McCain, Ayotte, discussing defense cuts in NH

Associated Press, Foster’s Daily Democrat (Dover, NH), July 31

“Two Republican United States senators are in New Hampshire discussing how looming defense cuts will affect national security.”

Submit LTE, limit 350 words: http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=FOSOPINION01

John McCain returning to NH to talk defense cuts

Associated Press, Foster’s Daily Democrat, July 30

“Former Republican presidential nominee John McCain is returning to New Hampshire to discuss looming defense spending cuts.”

Submit LTE, limit 350 words: http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/section?category=FOSOPINION01

Opinion:

What you won’t hear at the ‘town hall meeting’

Arnie Alpert, Concord Monitor, July 30

“The senators say they are trying to “sound the alarm” about the economic impact of cuts in military spending if the Pentagon is forced to cut $500 billion from its budget over the next 10 years.”

Submit LTE, limit 250 words: http://www.concordmonitor.com/form/submit-letter-to-the-editor

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