The Stupidity Does Not Stop! Wasted Money for Useless Defense Boondoggles at Expense of the Least Among Us!

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.

FY 2013 Proposed Budget Summary

On February 13, the Obama Administration released the proposed budget for the 2013 fiscal year. We will summarize some of the highlights and changes from the previous year, specifically to the State Department’s budget and the Department of Defense’s budget.

President Obama’s proposal allows $3.7 trillion for spending in 2013 and predicts a $901 billion deficit. Only about 30% of the allowed spending is discretionary – $2.5 trillion (a little less than 70%) is mandatory spending and has already been allocated to various programs through existing laws and includes entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. About 6% of the budget goes towards paying down the interest on our federal debt and is included in the mandatory spending.

Of the federal budget, the State Department and USAID takes about 1%. For FY 2013, Obama’s proposed plan provides the State Department and other international programs $51.6 billion in discretionary spending. This reflects an increase of 1.6% or $0.8 billion from the 2012 level when Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) resources are included. The budget focuses on key geographical areas, such as the Middle East, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. It will continue to provide military aid programs to Israel ($3.1 billion), Egypt ($1.3 billion), and Jordan ($300 million). In addition, it sets aside money to promote democracy, good governance, and free market economies in the critical Middle East and North Africa region, reflecting the recent events and transitions in the region. It stands with the President’s focus on international health programs and funds the Administration’s pledges to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria and provides $7.9 billion to the President’s Global Health Initiative. In order to cut down spending, the aid to eastern European and Eurasian countries will decrease by 18% from the previous year. Furthermore, the State Department will hold off on a planned expansion of personnel and an overseas construction program to improve and build new secure embassies.

Many of the Defense Department’s highlights were released by Leon Panetta last week. Overall, Obama’s proposal gives $525.4 billion for the base discretionary budget for the department. This will be a decrease of 1% or $5.1 billion from the 2012 numbers. The decrease is part of the President’s attempt to save $486.9 billion by 2021. There will be a major reduction over the next five years in the size of the military ($50 billion). The end of the war in Iraq and the promised scale back of the war in Afghanistan in 2013 will save about $26 billion through cuts in operations and equipment and the slash in costs of training and equipping the Afghan security forces. The budget entails maintaining 68,000 troops in Afghanistan through September 2013 but those totals can be changed. The proposed budget would terminate low priority programs, such as C-27 airlift aircraft and a new weather satellite and reduce the number of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters the Pentagon will buy. There will be maintained spending in cyber security, special operations forces, and unmanned surveillance aircraft. The Administration wants to preserve a reliable nuclear deterrent with investments in the nuclear weapons complex and continue to promote nuclear nonproliferation by securing and neutralizing nuclear threats around the world.

For more detailed information on the FY 2013 proposed budget, see the State Department budget page, the Defense Department budget page, or the White House budget overview.

The New York Times has created an interactive budget graphic which puts the budget proposal in perspective.