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I wanted to do a follow up on military spending with a question… Why is everyone so afraid of cutting defense?  We (the US) spend more on Defense than the rest of the world combined. These spending levels will once again be at the forefront of the next budget battle brewing in Congress. The Democrats and President Obama will have the upper hand in the negotiations because of the Sequester; it’s still there ready to automatically cut DOD by 8% or ~$55B on March 1. Not much considering the DOD annual budget authority has erupted in the last ten years, with 2012 spending levels at ~$700B. The common argument used by the DOD protectors is “it’s for the troops” talking point. While that plays well to the MSM, is it true?

To see if that’s the case, the chart below shows the average pay, in thousands, for active duty personnel since 1960 (right axis). The left axis shows the total DOD spending since 1960 in billions. Both are adjusted to eliminate any inflationary factors.

You can see that during the last ten years, the huge water faucet of money has been going to the corporations not the troops. Defense companies like Haliburton, Lockheed Martin, and Academi (formally Xe, formally Black Water) have been lining up at the government trough. We are due to start collecting our peace dividend, if only we can stay out of anymore wars.

It’s time to start rearranging our priorities in this country. Yes, the United States needs a strong Defense. Though it seems that Defense spending is becoming another form of corporate welfare, safe and secure, wrapped in the blanket of patriotism. This spending is protected because anyone who questions it is labeled un-American. The key to limiting Defense spending is to cut the actual DOD core budget, not the war funding that will reduce as we withdraw our troops.

A few weeks ago, many of you voted and commented on my diary including Andrew Sullivan. The survey results are interesting and show that most of you feel the same way about Defense spending.

•    60% of voters wanted to cut Defense by 20% (~$140B) or more
•    8% of voters wanted to cut Defense by 5% (~$35B) or less
•    And 10% wanted to cut Defense at the sequester level of 8% (~$55B)

So if it was left up to us, Defense spending would be reduced substantially. Now if we can just convince Congress to go along with us…


In the upcoming budget battle, will our elected leaders agree to?

30%17 votes
25%14 votes
25%14 votes
8%5 votes
10%6 votes

| 56 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  People are afraid of cutting defense because (7+ / 0-)

    1.  The defense industry employs a LOT of people and they will be let go.

    2.  The MIC has a LOT of power and money

    3.  The opposition WILL portray you as a weak treasonous coward who wants "the enemy" to come in and kill Amurrka.

    Among other things.

    "Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." --M. L. King "You can't fix stupid" --Ron White -6.00, -5.18

    by zenbassoon on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 12:33:33 PM PST

    •  Federal Spending on defense forces (6+ / 0-)

      Republicans to twist themselves into a pretzel in terms of government spending being stimulative. As soon as someone talks about cutting defense, we hear about all the jobs that will be lost. Those jobs are somehow "real" while any other federal employees or those working on government contracts are somehow stealing from the private economy.

      Ultimately it's a matter of priorities. I agree that the spending is stimulative but would rather spend money helping American citizens secure education, health care and some floor level of having their basic needs met. Republicans would rather spend money on new & more efficient ways to kill people.

      "Compassion is the radicalism of our time." ~ Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama -7.88, -6.21

      by Siri on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 01:02:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Defense spending has some of the lowest (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Siri, simple serf, chrismorgan, Buckeye54

        multipliers in the economy.  Spending money on defense companies doesn't stimulate money circulation as much as spending on building widgets people actually go out and buy, like cars, or furniture, or computers.

        The multiplier is an economics term referring to the response in one variable based on varying another.  It is typically used to show how often money spent for any good is recirculated into the economy, or how varying spending changes aggregate demand (all consumer purchasing).

        One reason defense spending has so much Congressional support is the way the industry cynically puts different pieces of each project into dozens and dozens of districts, making those representatives want to "preserve" those jobs.

        Here's some recent research confirming this long known fact.

        As we show, in comparison to these alternative uses of funds,  spending  on  the military  is  a relatively  poor source of job creation. Indeed, our research finds that $1 billion in spending on the military will generate about 11,200 jobs. By contrast, the employment effects of spending in alternative areas will be 15,100 for household consumption, 16,800 for the green economy, 17,200 for health care, and 26,700 for education. That is, investments in the green economy, health care and education will  produce between about 50–140 percent more jobs than if the same amount of money were spent by the Pentagon.
        •  I totally believe the multiplier (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          madhaus, Siri

          number for defense is low.
          Thanx for that link to the report. I have it printed and will read it.
          I seem to recall reading/hearing that one of the best multipliers is unemployment benefits, but don't quote me on that. Chalk that up to memory issues...

    •  defense as stimulus? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      zenbassoon, carver, science nerd

      and so it is, but these are very expensive jobs, as not a lot of it goes to workers.  Rich guys getting richer by not paying high enough wages and by outsourcing are likely getting the lion's share.  

      "oh no, not four more years of hope and change?" Karl Christian Rove

      by anna shane on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 01:13:17 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  they're afraid (12+ / 0-)

    because starting in the 1980s, defense contractors devised a deliberate strategy to have at least some part of the supply and manufacturing chains in every congressional district, so defense cuts could be cast as killing local jobs, and thus used against every congresscritter who supports cuts.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 12:36:04 PM PST

  •  It's not leverage (7+ / 0-)

    The sequester cuts would only be leverage if Democratic reps and Senators didn't want to spare the military from cuts every bit as much as the Rethugs.  I've already gotten a letter from my Democratic Senator telling me that we must stop the sequester cuts to the military.

    Every Senator and Rep in every party either has bases and/or contractors in their districts or states, or, at the very least, count heavily on MIC contributions for their campaign financing.

    The leverage was the Bush Tax Cuts.  We gave that up on the fiscal curb deal.  Now the debt ceiling becomes the leverage.  And that leverage is theirs.  We have none.

    "Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will."—Frederick Douglass

    by costello7 on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 12:39:21 PM PST

    •  It is sad (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      glorificus, HoundDog

      That the MIC pretty much has both sides by the short hairs. That was what President Dwight Eisenhower tried to warn us about it...
      seems to have come true..

    •  it's where the cuts should be (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Illinois IRV

      Democrats and Obama favor cutting military spending by lots, just not in certain places.  I think Obama would not like the unmanned drone program cut.  

      "oh no, not four more years of hope and change?" Karl Christian Rove

      by anna shane on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 01:14:56 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Tis a pity that the drone program is (0+ / 0-)

        Not on the table.  Sooner or later we are going to have to face the fact that the international community has a dim view of our drone attacks.  It's equivalent to assassination and is not a civilized way of dealing with the world even if it has been aimed at some bad actors.

        "The real wealth of a nation consists of the contributions of its people and nature." -- Rianne Eisler

        by noofsh on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 06:59:08 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Only half the cuts come from defense (6+ / 0-)

    the other $500 billion come from federal programs.  

    There are a growing number of hard-core "small government" conservatives who are willing to keep those defense cuts in exchange for keeping those cuts to federal programs.  

    Then, when March 27 comes, and they need to set spending levels for next year, they will start with those "after-sequester" levels and cut more from those federal programs.  

    I don't think it's the leverage you think it is.  

  •  Defense cuts (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    simple serf

    at a time when we in an endless 'war' with a global enemy that has no nation state, no army and will kill yer family?  Are you kidding we need to have a military that spends more 7 times money on 'defense' then every body...   It keeps us safe. (snark)

    If they cut 5 bn. off we still could still kick China's butt. But why would we they are our ATM and slave labor force. Can't have a mine shaft gap however so we need to spend this obscene amount of money and blood to keep us safe. From what and who? At this point our military is Olivers Army and it's here to stay.

    The giant MIC places like GE and Lockheed  could be used to actually protect us. How about they start making something useful. Maybe they could design and manufacture product's and a grid that is not about oil but deals the  global warming threat. Maybe make us really energy independent. What our military might is used for has nothing to do with defense and everything to do with global geopolitical neocon dominance and aggression all for the profit of multinationals who do not bring good things to life.


    •  Wow!! you had me clenching some of (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      my lower muscles on the first paragraph...and now laughing...
      I agree with your assertion,

      How about they start making something useful. Maybe they could design and manufacture product's and a grid that is not about oil but deals the  global warming threat.
      But remember, there is no Global Warming Threat (snark back)
      Thanx Cheers
  •  Off the cuff... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    simple serf

    The sequestration gets cut in half, with what is left being about 2/3rd non-defense and 1/3 defense. The debt ceiling is raised. Democrats are once again accused of "blowing up the deficit" in 2014.

    I didn't say I liked that guess, it is just an off the cuff guess of what happens if administration holds firm, doesn't offer any Social Security or Medicare cuts and refuses to negotiate separately over the debt ceiling. You can only guess some of the damage that can be done to democrats if the administration doesn't hold firm on those points.

    A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward. Franklin D. Roosevelt

    by notrouble on Sat Jan 05, 2013 at 01:53:53 PM PST

  •  I'm not really sur ehow this could be leverage (0+ / 0-)

    since Obama himself said during the debates that he won't cut defense.

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