Tag Archives: Spending Cuts

Defense cuts to an already weakened military exposes us to aggression

Mackenzie Eaglen is a defense policy analyst for the American Enterprise Institute.

Here’s a recent article that she wrote from the Wall Street Journal. (Full text also here on the AEI web site)

Excerpt:

Washington is battling these days over “sequestration,” the $500 billion additional cut to the defense budget looming in January.

[…]In April 2011—long before the near shutdown of the government and the last-minute debt-ceiling deal, which paved the way for sequestration—the president outlined $400 billion in defense cuts he had already approved. He also said that he wanted to “do that again” and find another $400 billion in military spending reductions. All this without any talk of threats, strategy or requirements—just arbitrary budget targets imposed on the military.

Even before sequestration and the possible loss of a half-trillion dollars, the U.S. military has seen three years of budget cuts. The consequences are already here. We have to look all the way back to 1916 to find a year when the Air Force purchased fewer aircraft than are included in Mr. Obama’s 2013 budget request.

Many of the Air Force’s aerial refueling tankers predate human space flight. Training aircraft are twice as old as the students flying them. The F-15 fighter first flew 40 years ago. A-10 ground-attack planes were developed in the Carter years. And all of our B-52 bombers predate the Cuban missile crisis.

Then there’s the Navy, which is the smallest it has been since 1916. At 286 combat and combat-support ships, the Navy today is less than half the size it reached during the Reagan administration. And what about those men and women who have been fighting America’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since 2001? They’re losing 100,000 in active duty personnel. Surely some will go from the front lines to unemployment lines as a result.

[…]Military leaders have suggested that taking on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his Third World army would be an operation of “many, many months.” The so-called “pivot” to Asia is being mimed with fewer ships on longer deployments and a shrinking, aging air force. We’re ignoring a wholesale Chinese power grab in the South China Sea and watching the nuclearization of Iran.

In another article on AOL Defense, she focuses in on the cuts to the U.S. Air Force. (Full text also here on the AEI web site)

Excerpt:

Between the existing reduction of $487 billion and sequestration’s additional half-trillion dollar cut, the Pentagon faces a very profound strategic turning point — one entirely different than that articulated by Secretary Panetta. Instead of prudently posturing for future successes, America’s armed forces are headed for a crash.

These pressures are perhaps best illustrated within the Air Force. The service absorbed 90 percent of the cuts levied on the Department of Defense in the 2013 budget — $4.8 billion of $5.2 billion. The effects have been immediate and pronounced: nearly 10,000 airmen are being cut; 227 aircraft are being prematurely retired; and critical capability shortfalls are on the rise.

[…]These budget cuts would not present such dire effects if the Air Force had been able to use the past decade to recapitalize its fleet and overarching infrastructure. At the end of World War Two, the Korean War, Vietnam, and the Cold War, the service was able to weather post-war budget downturns precisely because it had reset the majority of its capabilities during wartime.

Circumstances were different this past decade. The Air Force, already stretched thin by the 1990s procurement holiday, actually saw its percentage of the defense budget decline by one-third during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The service canceled or delayed the vast majority of its modernization portfolio to sustain wartime operational demands.

So 20 years of underfunding has given us an Air Force on the brink. Its aircraft average a quarter of a century in age-with many dating back to the Eisenhower Administration. The wings of Carter-era A-10 ground attack airplanes are riddled with structural cracks. Airmen learning to fly are strapping into T-38s over twice their age. B-52s, all of which pre-date the Cuban missile crisis, are spending up to a year in depot-level maintenance. In light of the F-22 shortage, the Air Force is now extending the lifespan of its 28 year-old F-15s to 18,000 hours — more than three times their original design life.

The Air Force also spent the last decade retiring nearly a quarter of its bombers, fighters, and cargo aircraft in an attempt to free up money for immediate priorities. While helpful on a budget spreadsheet in the near-term, this has stretched the remaining tails even thinner. Shrinking the fleet makes little sense when the mission demand is constant. Aircraft availability rates and maintenance statistics clearly illustrate the rising costs associated with this decision.

Obama is also in favor of the complete disarmament of the United States with respect to nuclear weapons.

The Wall Street Journal explains:

The White House and Pentagon are considering several proposals that would deeply cut the nation’s stockpile of nuclear weapons, potentially to as low as 300 warheads under one such plan, according to a U.S. official.

The proposals haven’t been presented to President Barack Obama but are being debated by lower-level officials on the national-security staff and in the Pentagon.

The U.S. official said the government isn’t considering a unilateral cut to the nation’s nuclear arsenal. Instead, the different proposals represent arsenal levels that could be negotiated with Russia in a future round of arms-control talks.

Nonetheless, the prospect of nuclear-arsenal cuts during a hard-fought presidential campaign is certain to stoke political controversy.

Under current treaty obligations, the U.S. must reduce its nuclear arsenal to 1,550 warheads by 2018 from just below 1,800 now. One of the new proposals would cut the arsenal to between 1,000 and 1,100; another proposes an arsenal of between 700 to 800; and the most drastic proposal would cut the arsenal to between 300 and 400, according to the official.

The fact of the matter is that there are hot spots and threats all over the world. If we want to work towards peace and protect the weak, then we need a large, capable military force. This is the doctrine of peace through strength. Talk is cheap, and disarmament only emboldens evildoers to be aggressive. If we want to stop war, we have to make it costly for aggressors and tyrants. They have to know that there is a cost.

Obama wants to cut health care for our troops by $13 billion

Story from the Washington Free Breacon. (H/T Doug)

Excerpt:

The Obama administration’s proposed defense budget calls for military families and retirees to pay sharply more for their healthcare, while leaving unionized civilian defense workers’ benefits untouched. The proposal is causing a major rift within the Pentagon, according to U.S. officials. Several congressional aides suggested the move is designed to increase the enrollment in Obamacare’s state-run insurance exchanges.

The disparity in treatment between civilian and uniformed personnel is causing a backlash within the military that could undermine recruitment and retention.

The proposed increases in health care payments by service members, which must be approved by Congress, are part of the Pentagon’s $487 billion cut in spending. It seeks to save $1.8 billion from the Tricare medical system in the fiscal 2013 budget, and $12.9 billion by 2017.

Many in Congress are opposing the proposed changes, which would require the passage of new legislation before being put in place.

“We shouldn’t ask our military to pay our bills when we aren’t willing to impose a similar hardship on the rest of the population,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a Republican from California, said in a statement to the Washington Free Beacon. “We can’t keep asking those who have given so much to give that much more.”

Administration officials told Congress that one goal of the increased fees is to force military retirees to reduce their involvement in Tricare and eventually opt out of the program in favor of alternatives established by the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.

“When they talked to us, they did mention the option of healthcare exchanges under Obamacare. So it’s in their mind,” said a congressional aide involved in the issue.

Those military people aren’t going to vote for him anyway, and that’s all that matters to Obama.

New government report finds $400 billion dollars of waste and duplication

A new Government Accountability Office report uncovers massive government waste.

Excerpt:

The government could save tens of billions of dollars each year if redundant and duplicative programs were cut, according to a report released by the Government Accountability Office on Tuesday.

The GAO report examines programs and services that could be streamlined to increase efficiency of government and save money. It looked at areas of where it found either duplication or overlap of services — when “two or more agencies or programs are engaged in the same activities or provide the same services to the same beneficiaries — and fragmentation, when “more than one federal agency (or more than one organization with an agency) is involved in the same broad national interest.” Fragmentation often amounts to an overlap.

Here are some examples of the $400 billion of wasteful spending and duplication.

Excerpt:

This year, GAO identified 32 new areas of duplication and 19 additional areas of waste and inefficiency. The report cites duplication in almost a thousand individual programs, costing taxpayers over $300 billion per year. This is on top of more than $100 billion identified in last year’s report.

Examples include:

  • 37 uncoordinated EPA laboratories and 94 “green building” programs for which costs cannot be determined because “information agencies provided was incomplete and unreliable.”
  • $736 million spent on 14 different diesel emissions programs and federal funding for 55 surface freight transportation programs.
  • 160 various housing assistance programs at a cost of $170 billion annually.

But that’s not the only way for the government to waste money… they can give it to green energy companies that go bankrupt!

Excerpt:

Abound Solar Inc., which received a $400 million U.S. loan guarantee to build two factories, shut down production and fired 180 people after panel prices fell by half last year.

Abound stopped making its first-generation solar panels and will refit its manufacturing lines to produce more efficient products, the Loveland, Colorado-based company said yesterday in a statement.

The move is a response to the same forces that drove Solyndra LLC into bankruptcy after it received a $535 million loan guarantee from the same U.S. Energy Department program, said Pavel Molchanov, an analyst at Raymond James & Associates Inc. in Houston.

You can read this article to see how Abound Solar was connected to wealthy Democrat party contributors.

Bobby Jindal cuts Louisiana budget by 25%… and gets re-elected in landslide?

Gov. Bobby Jindal
Gov. Bobby Jindal

From the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Excerpt:

One gubernatorial election ended early this fall, when Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal won the state’s blanket primary Oct. 22. Under Louisiana’s system, all candidates of all parties are listed on the ballot, and if no one gets 50 percent, the top two finishers go to a runoff. Jindal blew past the threshold with 66 percent.

Jindal’s reelection was unusual in several respects. The only previous time the state has not had a runoff was his election in 2007. He is only the fourth Republican governor in the last 125 years in Louisiana, and one of those four switched over from the Democrats in office. Jindal’s best-known challenger this year was a schoolteacher, who raised less than 1 percent of the incumbent’s campaign treasury. The Democratic State Central Committee declined to endorse any candidate running on its party label.

But perhaps most unbelievable is that Jindal faced no serious competition after cutting state spending more than 25 percent. In January 2008, the state had a budget of $34.3 billion. This summer, Jindal signed into law a budget spending $25 billion. As governors from Harrisburg to Trenton to Columbus to Madison have learned, cutting a state’s budget is difficult enough; doing so without a significant backlash seems a politically impossible task.

A key part of Jindal’s story is recognizing that he took the helm of a state that had hit bottom: Decades of mismanagement and corruption had taken their toll even before Hurricane Katrina wreaked such devastation and exposed such colossal unresponsiveness in state government. The state, recognizing the bitter fruit of its traditions of colorful corruption, was ready to take a chance on a then-37-year-old Indian American congressman who speaks roughly 100 words per minute. The state was willing to try a new approach to governing; how much worse could it be?

Privatization played a big role in Jindal’s reinvention of state government, with private contractors taking over state-run operations for a lesser cost. The companies often hired the state workers who would often be the centerpiece of opponents’ criticism.

His administration privatized the state’s Office of Risk Management. Then the state’s Division of Administration privatized claims management and loss prevention in the self-insurance program, saving $20 million over five years. The Department of Health and Hospitals privatized six inpatient, residential-treatment programs around the state, saving $2.5 million. Separately, patients were moved from state-operated institutions that cost $600 or more per patient per day to community-based services and private group homes that average $191 per day, saving an additional $23.8 million.

Consolidation was another key element: The state’s Department of Revenue shrank from eight offices statewide to three. The Department of Children and Family Services consolidated its offices from 157 to 90, saving a total of $2.7 million.

But some of Jindal’s cuts are the old-fashioned kind. The state sold 1,300 vehicles from its fleet of automobiles. Louisiana’s Transportation Department shut down a ferry that was used by only 7,200 drivers per year, saving the state roughly three-quarters of a million dollars.

In fiscal 2011, Louisiana eliminated more than 3,500 full-time government positions. Add the 6,363 previous reductions during Jindal’s term, and that means a total of almost 9,900 full-time positions reduced since he took the oath, a savings of almost $600 million. Louisiana now has the lowest level of full-time state government employees in almost 20 years.

“You change people’s expectations and you make structural changes,” Jindal said, while racing around the state about three weeks before the election. “The most important is this cultural change, to say government is not the answer to everything. In a weird way, I want the office of governor to be less important than it is. What I mean by that is, there was an old joke that kids in Louisiana don’t grow up wanting to be president; they grow up wanting to be governor. You should want them to want to business leaders or doctors or teachers.”

Some cuts were more noticeable to the public, but Louisianans found shorter hours and workweeks at state facilities more palatable than complete shutdowns or higher taxes: Historic sites are now open five days a week instead of seven, pools at a half dozen state parks were closed on Mondays and Tuesdays this summer, and entrance stations at all state parks had shorter hours. Finally, 54,000 rank-and-file state workers are going without a raise for the second consecutive year.

Jindal’s first term was marked by several high-profile crises he successfully managed – Hurricane Gustav and the response to the BP oil spill, along with the Obama administration’s six-month moratorium on all drilling in the Gulf of Mexico – but the state’s economy has generally chugged along: Louisiana’s unemployment rate is 7.1 percent, two percentage points lower than the national average, and a comparably booming economy makes cuts in state spending much easier to take.

“If you have a good-paying job with benefits, you wouldn’t need the state to do so many things for you,” Jindal says. “You become less dependent, and that diminishes the role of the state and so you need fewer state employees, and it’s a virtuous cycle. You can lower taxes and lower government spending.”

Louisiana is a swing state. If Bobby Jindal can cut government spending in a swing state and get re-elected with 66% of the vote, then we do have hope that the American people will do the right thing. Maybe we just need to hit bottom with Obama so that we realize that competence does matter after all. We have a deep, deep bullpen for future elections. Governors like Scott Walker (Wisconsin), Rick Scott (Florida) and John Kasich (Ohio)would be excellent presidential candidates.  And of course we have Marco Rubio and soon-to-be senators Josh Mandel and Ted Cruz waiting in the wings.

What could Stephen Harper teach Michele Bachmann about winning elections?

Michele Bachmann should adopt Stephen Harper's plan
Michele Bachmann should adopt Stephen Harper's plan

Michele Bachmann is soliciting questions for her townhall meeting on her Facebook page. Please “like” her page and then like my question, so that it will be asked.

The post that she is asking for questions in has this text:

Excited to join Tim Scott for Congress for a town hall live on Facebook from Charleston, SC tomorrow at 7PM ET, where we’ll be taking questions from our community of constitutional conservatives. Have a question? Please ask in the comments below:

My question is reproduced below:

Mrs. Bachmann, in the 2011 Canadian federal election, Stephen Harper, a conservative, managed to win a majority in a country that is only one-third conservative. He did this by creating N-point plans that clearly laid out his plans for each term.

The reason I think this is important is because he was able to neutralize the attacks of the media and the three left-leaning political parties because they were not able to accuse him of having a “hidden agenda”. My question for you is, have you considered laying out a clean, specific N-point plan for what you would do as President of the United States? You could even have 3 plans, one for social issues, one for fiscal issues, and one for foreign policy.

If you like my question, please like the “TeamBachmann” Facebook page, and then go to her post asking for questions, and like my question.

Here are the Harper plans:

2006: (won minority)

  • Cleaning up government by passing the Federal Accountability Act
  • Cutting the GST (the national sales tax)
  • Cracking down on crime
  • Increasing financial assistance for parents
  • Working with the provinces to establish a wait-times guarantee for patients

2008: (won minority)

  • The minister of finance and the Bank of Canada will constantly monitor financial markets and the impact of developments in other countries.
  • The global financial crisis will be discussed at the Canada-European Union Summit, which Harper will attend on Friday.
  • Parliament will be summoned to meet this fall and the minister of finance will table an economic and fiscal update before the end of November.
  • Canada will be represented at the meeting of G-20 finance ministers scheduled for early November in Brazil. Canada has also called for a second meeting of G-7 finance ministers.
  • Government spending will be focused and kept under control as the strategic review of departmental spending — now in the second year of a four year review – continues.
  • Harper will hold a first ministers meeting on the economy to discuss with premiers and territorial leaders a joint approach to the global financial crisis.

2011: (won majority)

  • Creating jobs through training, trade and low taxes.
  • Supporting families through our Family Tax Cut and more support for seniors and caregivers.
  • Eliminating the deficit by 2014-2015 by controlling spending and cutting waste.
  • Making our streets safe through new laws to protect children and the elderly.
  • Standing on guard for Canada by investing in the development of Canada’s North, cracking down on human smuggling and strengthening the Canadian Armed Forces.

Actually, Canadian conservatives are much more liberal than we Republicans are – they are soft on social issues. Harper himself is an evangelical Christian, though, but his hands are tied when it comes to social issues. He tries to support stronger families as a way to reduce abortion and to ensure that children grow up with mothers and fathers. Even Stephen Harper is not able to do anything about same-sex marriage and abortion, which are both legal in Canada.

I think Michele would do well to pretend that she was running for office in Canada, and then create her plans that way. All the conservatives already know that she is a solid evangelical and a Tea party stalwart. What she needs to do is come up with a list of specific smart policies that will win over two-thirds of the independents.

Some things I would like to see: transparency in government, sensible spending cuts, tort reform, cut employer payroll tax to 0%, cut federal funding for abortion/Planned Parenthood, increased tax credits for MARRIED couples, matching grants for states that create voucher programs, etc, a federal right-to-work law, a tax credit, usable at any time in the future, for all salary income earned by young people under the age of 22. Etc.