Economy & Budget

Military spending isn’t sacrosanct when it comes to a balanced budget


On Friday, the House and Senate passed legislation which will keep the federal government functioning until April 28 of next year. Without a new budget, a short-term continuing resolution was needed for critical government services to remain operational and funded.

While few were sufficiently satisfied with this solution, a bipartisan vote of 326-96 in the House allowed it to easily glide to approval, with a 63-36 vote later in the Senate passing the bill with only minutes to spare before the midnight deadline to have the bill ready for President Barack Obama’s signature.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-K.Y.) put it bluntly when he described the spending plan as “simply a Band-Aid on a gushing wound.” He further added:

“While I firmly believe a continuing resolution is no way to run a railroad, at this point, this is our best – and only – path forward.”
There was discontent in the Senate as well.

Democrats backed down from their threats to block the bill after failing to guarantee health benefits for some 16,500 miners on the verge of losing them at the end of the year. They settled for $45 million of benefits only lasting for four months.     

{mosads}Considered a leading candidate for Energy Secretary in the incoming administration, Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) stated:

“I’m born into a family of coal miners. If I’m not going to stand up for them, who is?” when asked about this issue by reporters.

While not passing a budget is indeed detrimental to the country, so are the continued fiscally reckless budgets that do ultimately get through. The United States of America is nearing $20 trillion in debt. This is perhaps one of the greatest fiscal calamities in the history of the world, and we can thank the complete and utter incompetence of those elected to represent the interests of the American people.

While the staggering $1.41 trillion budget deficit in 2009 has declined as low as $399 billion in 2015, and an estimated $552 billion in 2016, these are still clearly unsustainable numbers.

The budget deficit on average has been greater during the Obama administration than during any other presidential administration in history, however there certainly is enough blame to go around for the many elected officials who have done nothing sufficient to try and stop this grossly destructive trend.

The problem only gets worse the longer it takes for action to be taken to start moving us towards the elimination of the gargantuan federal debt.

Less than a third of the federal budget is considered to be discretionary spending, with more than half of that being military spending. While sometimes programs such as the infamous Alaskan “bridge to nowhere” are mentioned, the $400 million or so saved from scrapping something like that is barely a drop in the overall bucket. More significant cuts have to be enacted.

As an advocate of President Ronald Reagan’s philosophy of “peace through strength,” the idea of making limitations on military spending rather than increasing it goes against much of what I believe, but the simple fact is we cannot afford it.

A monumental amount of military spending will not be of much help if the country is essentially bankrupt.

There is also clear and evident waste with the recent revelation just in the past several days of the Pentagon trying to bury a report showing $125 billion of unnecessary waste going towards the business operations associated with the military. If it is not needed for the defense of American sovereignty and our interests abroad, it should be eliminated.

Before America’s entrance in World War II, our army was on par with Portugal The greatest generation was able to give us the greatest fighting force on the face of the earth on short notice. If it were ever needed again, we would have no excuse to not rise to the occasion the same way they did.

A distant second in the category of discretionary spending would be government expenses, and while there are many unnecessary bureaucrats that can arguably be downsized, this would only aid to a certain extent.

Finally, perhaps the most sickening aspect of the current budget woes would be the interest on the debt. This is a problem that only gets compounded and more inflamed the worse it becomes.

In 2015 the interest on the debt alone was $229.15 billion, 6.03% percent of the entire federal budget; and around half of the reason for there still being a budget deficit.

This is shameful, and every year it robs our country and its citizens of huge amounts of money that could be better spent in a plethora of other areas. Raising the debt ceiling time and time again is not a solution. It is like using duct tape to plug the holes on a sinking boat. Sooner or later, the sea will consume it.

As we look ahead, President-elect Donald Trump has promised to dramatically increase military spending, with calls that include 90,000 more ground troops, a 350 ship Navy, and 100 more fighter jets.

In World War II there were 30 Navy ships for every admiral, while today there are more admirals than there are ships.

This says it all when it comes to bureaucracy overtaking practicality. There is waste in many areas of government, including the armed forces. Nothing should be considered off-limits when the very financial security of the United States is on the line.

Corruption and monetary mismanagement were two of the factors that brought down the Roman Empire. They had to rely on foreign mercenaries to defend their borders in the last days of the Empire, while similarly Americans now owe more than half of their national debt to foreign powers. The stakes are high and clear.

We will have to decide if we wish to have a bold and bright future, or one where we make the same mistakes of history at our own peril.

Ajay Bruno is a conservative writer and Republican political consultant who has worked on numerous campaigns on the local, state, and federal levels.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

Tags Barack Obama Donald Trump Joe Manchin

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