Pentagon: The President Resists $1 Trillion Cut
By Jim Cason on 01/24/2012 @ 09:30 AM
"Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home."
-- President Barack Obama, State of the Union Speech
Watching the State of the Union speech, I was delighted to hear the president calling for Congress to use some war money on other priorities. I was also glad to see the president's call to use tax policy to promote investments in renewable energy.
Yet right as he approached the end of his speech, the president disappointed me when he again reiterated that his Pentagon budget will include "saving nearly half a trillion dollars" in the projected Pentagon budget over the next ten years. As my colleague Ruth Flower has pointed out, a reduction in projected Pentagon spending of $500 billion dollars over the next ten years will reduce the rate of growth in Pentagon spending but will not result in a real cut in spending.
Our Country Needs $1 Trillion Cut in Pentagon Spending
The president's comments Tuesday were one more part of the coordinated strategy by the White House and the Pentagon to resist the $1 trillion cut in Pentagon spending that is required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. We know from press reports that on Thursday, January 26 the Pentagon is set to roll out its new budget numbers which will be another part of that strategy.
In preparation for that roll-out, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has invited key Congressional leaders over for dinner tonight at the Pentagon to discuss the $487 billion in cuts to Pentagon spending that the Pentagon has agreed they will make.
Secretary Panetta has some strong allies in Congress. The leadership of the House Armed Services Committee has already introduced legislation that would eliminate the requirement that the Pentagon budget be cut by some $50 billion in fiscal year 2013. And in the Senate, the Democratic and Republican leaders of the Armed Services Committee have also said they will be looking for ways to avoid any cuts in Pentagon spending beyond the $459 billion in reductions that the Pentagon has already agreed to.
Now please don't misunderstand me. If two years ago any of you had asked me if the Pentagon would agree to a $500 billion in their spending, I would have scored that as unlikely. These cuts are a sign of the progress we have made and of the depth of concern over the current deficit crisis. But, given the other priorities facing our nation, these cuts are not enough. And contrary to what the Pentagon is saying, there are a lot more cuts in our nation's wasteful and unneeded weapons programs that could be made.
We at FCNL approach the world with the premise that "War Is Not the Answer." But you don't have to be a Quaker or a part of the FCNL network to agree that the Pentagon could cut $1 trillion from their budget in the next ten years. In fact, such a reduction would still only reduce Pentagon spending to the levels of 2007.
We're encouraging everyone to continue organizing to persuade Congress that the current cuts in Pentagon spending required by law are a minimum. The next step will be to take this message out to others in our communities and begin a conversation on these issues. I look forward to reading what you think.