Mitt Romney says he is going to balance the budget, but he has provided specifics only in the area of defense spending. He states unequivocally that he will not cut defense spending, and, in fact, intends to increase it to four percent of GDP. This is an astonishing move from a politician who calls himself a fiscal conservative. A true fiscal conservative would analyze needs and set spending priorities accordingly.
There is no reason to exclude defense spending from objective analysis. The Pentagon and State Department can evaluate potential threats to national security and adjust spending levels to counter those threats with appropriate responses. Setting expenditures at an arbitrary level is lazy and irresponsible. In that event, when threats are minimal, spending levels can be too high. On the other hand, automatic adjustment in line with GDP may result in too little spending. Potential threats may not be recognized because preset spending could provide a false sense of security and encourage misplaced priorities.
Either Mitt Romney is uninformed, or he chooses to ignore that military spending is already out of hand. He should know that the United States presently spends on defense more than all other advanced economies combined, even though most of those others are our allies. We already have more than adequate military muscle to take out any foreseeable foe.
Romney has not mentioned making the pentagon accountable. In spite of congressional mandates to do so, the Pentagon fails or refuses to account for what it spends year after year. The high command has promised Congress again and again that it can account sometime in the future, but for years it hasn’t. Surely, a true fiscal conservative requires an accounting before allowing more spending that may be wasteful or unnecessary. Why doesn’t Romney (and President Obama) demand that the pentagon account? If generals and admirals continue to fail at this straight forward mission, they should be replaced. A bloated military budget becomes corporate welfare and an open invitation for waste, fraud and abuse. For example, FLVCS notes that in that in the most recent budget passed by the House of Representatives, it funded weapons systems that the Pentagon doesn’t even want.
In a recent speech, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Dempsey, said, “It makes no sense for us as a nation to have an extraordinarily capable military instrument of power if we are economically disadvantaged in the world.” Unreasonable defense spending, like continuing to fight counterproductive wars, makes us just that.
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