Perhaps you've heard something about the "dangerous" cuts planned for the defense budget.
(Reuters) - Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned on Wednesday that any across-the-board cuts to defense spending as part of the next stage of deficit reduction efforts could do "real damage" to national security.It sounds serious, doesn't it?
Then Meteor Blades goes and punches a great, big hole in the Pentagon's argument. The cuts wouldn't be all that dramatic in our incredibly bloated defense budget after all.
However, Meteor Blades only touched on one important word: Security.
But the word "security" isn't used the same way as Panetta intended. No, this is "security" in only a Washington lobbyist could dream up.
What sorts of things do you think of when you hear "defense and security"? Military jets? Soldiers in tanks? Aircraft carriers?
How about shipments of grain and Peace Corps volunteers?
Defense and Security is a categorization created by House Republicans to make sure the Defense Department didn’t have to foot much if any of these proposed cuts. The security part includes: Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, the National Nuclear Security Administration and various intelligence agencies. It also includes all international operations, whether run by the State, Commerce or Agriculture departments. This means The Peace Corps, foreign aid, grain shipments to impoverished nations and the VA will be up against the entire military industrial complex. If you were wondering which side to bet on: Last year the defense industry reported spending $146 million on lobbying, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. That is nearly a third of The Peace Corps annual budget.So instead of seeing the Pentagon be forced to reform itself and its wasteful ways, we will more likely see drastic cuts at VA Hospitals, shipments of grain to starving refugees, and those most evil characters of all, Peace Corps Volunteers.
"They wanted some lambs in the cage with (the Pentagon) when it comes to cutting," Winston Wheeler, an analyst at the Center for Defense Information, said in an interview Wednesday, and "they probably will be much more kind to defense than to foreign aid."The budget priorities are going to be very clear: a token amount of funds for peace, or protecting wasteful weapons of war. Which do you think the Republicans, and the Democrats that vote like Republicans, are going to chose?
Bluntly put, the legislation throws warplane contracts into the same budget-cutting arena as aid to Armenia and Israel, agricultural border inspections and research at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. While it's unlikely, even the nation's 152 VA hospitals could be dinged to protect a favored defense program.
The tradeoffs that will occur could prove poignant, if not paradoxical. The Peace Corps and the Food for Peace program, for instance, will be competing against major weapons systems such as the F-35 fighter plane.
The Defense Department comes to about 80% of the "defense and security" category, but there is nothing that says the cuts must be spread evenly.