Phil Poutre’s letter (Sept. 23, Daily Bee) makes it sound like budget cuts threaten our national security. That might sound scary if you don’t know actual facts in context of the national budget. The Budget Control Act (August 2011) agreed upon by the bi-lateral committee sets balanced reductions in all discretionary spending both military and non-military that will save about $1 trillion over the next 10 years. The Pentagon and White House proposed a military budget that saves about half that total (since military budget comprises about half of all discretionary spending). Can the military budget afford those reductions? Yes indeed.
First, military spending more than doubled between 2001 (at $350 billion) and 2010 (at $700 billion). The proposed cuts, 1 trillion spread over the next 10 years only bring Pentagon spending back to the 2007 funding level, at the height of the Iraq war.
Second, the U.S. military budget is higher today in inflation adjusted terms than at any time in the last 60 years. The amount U.S. spends ($700 billion annually) is about seven times as much as China spends on its military. That $700 billion is about the same as the combined total military expenditures of China, Russia, England, France, Japan, plus the 20 next largest military countries, all combined. This is no national security risk.
The proposed balanced across the board cuts will drop U.S. military to $500 billion next year (that was our military budget in 2007) and let it increase back up to $700 billion again in 2021. If the Pentagon doesn’t pay its fair share to balance the budget, everything else from Head Start to Meals on Wheels, education, roads and infrastructure, medical research, etc. would have to be cut doubly.
I recommend contacting our congressional delegation and ask that the budget cuts be left as planned: balanced and across the board.