The Republicans in the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on Thursday May 10th voted a raise of nearly $4 billion over the Administration’s requested funding for defense programs. As the New York Times editorial today said, the House Republicans “have insisted on preserving bloated military spending and unjustifiably low tax rates for the rich.” That is an understatement! They noted that a million Americans would lose their food stamps and 44 million others would find them reduced. The GOP would gut a host of other programs for the poor, the elderly, youth at risk, and the disabled. Let me add that these cuts are indeed a frontal attack on American security. These cuts make our nation weaker in its social fabric and poorer. They will instigate a downward spiral in our economy which will make us less efficient, productive, healthy, and able to meet our challenges at home and abroad.
The New York Times estimates that the House bill will prevent $55 billion of automatic cuts imposed on DOD as part of the debt ceiling deal, the so-called “sequester.” What was not said was that the fiscal year (FY) 2013 defense authorization bill includes hundreds of millions of dollars for nuclear weapons and missile defense programs that are largely useless and that the military itself does not want and has no rational national security purpose.
Leading the charge for wasteful spending are House Armed Services Committee chair Buck McKeon (R-Cal.) and Strategic Forces Subcommittee chair Michael Turner (R-Ohio). It seems to all to be about payoffs to the military industrial lobby and has nothing to do with real national security. Some of these Republicans are pressing for increases in nuclear weapons programs, which include $100 million for a new plutonium laboratory, called the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) Facility, to be built at Los Alamos National Lab in New Mexico. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) did not request any funds for CMRR.
Further Rep. Turner is likely to try to block implementation of the 2010 New START Treaty unless the funding is provided. Blocking U.S. implementation of New START, as Rep. Turner’s bill H.R. 4178 threatens to do, would likely result in Russia acting along the same lines. The treaty would unravel; the result could be Moscow increasing its forces above treaty ceilings with increases in the number of nuclear weapons. Further, the inspection system established under the treaty could collapse. This would deprive the U.S. of critical data exchanges and on-site inspections of Russian forces that the U.S. intelligence community needs.
Further, the Republicans are trying to add funding for a $460 million increase for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program, including $100 million to study a missile defense site on the East Coast. This would be in addition to the two sites already built in California and Alaska at a combined cost of $30 billion. (Yes that is billion!) Again, a program the DOD does not want or need. According to reports, GMD system is largely useless. The GMD system has not had a successful intercept test against a cooperative target since 2008. It had two failures in 2010. A recent National Research Council report said the GMD system “has serious shortcomings, and provides at best a limited, initial defense against a relatively primitive threat.” Moreover, the GMD system has not been tested against a realistic target including decoys.
Finally, Rep. McKeon’s bill also includes an increase of up to $347 million for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine replacement program, known as the SSBNX. The Navy did not request this money, and wants to delay the program by two years. Just one U.S. Ohio-class submarine, currently armed with 96 nuclear warheads, could kill millions. Experts believe a change to eight strategic submarines would provide a more than adequate nuclear deterrent. Under New START, the Pentagon plans to deploy approximately 1,000 nuclear warheads on strategic submarines. Enough is enough! But not for those who are mindless and have no concept of real national security.
The hope is that the senate will kill these provisions and the president would in any case veto any bill with these “crazy” proposals from a security, budget, and economic perspective. We must wonder why the inmates are in charge of the asylum.
We welcome your comments.
By Harry C. Blaney III.