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Two F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing aircraft ferry from Lockheed Martin’s production facility in Fort Worth, Texas, to Marine Corps Air Station Yuma on May 22, 2013.
That's half a billion dollars in military hardware, literally. Cut THAT before you cut troop pay and benefits.
The good news:
[Defense Secretary Chuck] Hagel is also expected to propose cutting the size of the Army from 490,000 active-duty members to between 440,000 and 450,000, down from a post 9/11 peak of 570,000.
Conservatives are acting like it's the death of the military, which of course it isn't. But there are bigger problems with what has been leaked thus far, and it has nothing to do with cutting the size of the Army (other than it could be cut even deeper).

The problem with Hagel's apparent proposal is this:

The recommendations would limit [military] pay raises across the board to 1 percent, and they would freeze pay entirely for generals and admirals for one year.

In addition to reduced housing allowances, the recommendations would slash the subsidies for commissaries that provide groceries to veterans, service members, and their families at reduced cost.

Well, so much for cutting the Pentagon budget. Cutting troop pay is as wrong and immoral as doing so for other government workers, and likely even more given the inherent dangers of the job (even in peacetime). Cutting benefits for veterans—those who actually served honorably in combat or dedicated their lives serving their nation—is even more so.

More on these cuts below the fold.

So not only is proposing benefits and pay cuts wrong on policy, it's wrong on the politics. You'd have to be a suicidal moron to vote for any such cuts, it doesn't matter what district or state you represent. By including such cuts in the proposal, Hagel has guaranteed that the cuts—already controversial to begin with—are dead on arrival.

If the Pentagon needs to cut, and if personnel costs are too high, then further shrink the size of the standing military. Cut wasteful weapons programs designed for wars that no longer exist, against non-existent foes, like the F-35 or the nation's 11 aircraft carriers. Drones are cheap, and they're the future of warfare in any case (for better or for worse). Close unnecessary bases. SLASH THE HELL out of the Pentagon's civilian workforce, which now stands at 760,000. That's not a typo. And it doesn't even include Pentagon contractors.

In fact, those civilians are the lowest-hanging fruit for Pentagon cuts. The troops? America loves them. The high-cost weapons systems? The military-industrial complex (and the elected officials they've bought) love them. Military bases? Local communities cling to them fiercely. The same Republicans who claim that government never created a job will vote to keep those bases open to protect local jobs. Aircraft carriers? They endure for little reason whatsoever.

But civilian employees and contractors? They have no natural constituency. So cut the size of the active duty armed forces, cut the size of the civilian workforce, and definitely try to close bases and shut unnecessary weapons systems down.

But the last thing you do if you are serious about cutting the defense budget is force our troops to bear the burden of those cuts. It's obnoxious, wrong-headed, idiotic, and a political dead-ender guaranteed to keep the Pentagon budget as bloated as ever.

Originally posted to kos on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 12:58 PM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  the MIC as hydra-headed budget beast (12+ / 0-)
    But the last thing you do if you are seriously about cutting the defense budget is force our troops to bear the burden of those cuts. It's obnoxious, wrong-headed, idiotic, and a political dead-ender guaranteed to keep the Pentagon budget as bloated as ever.

    Warning - some snark may be above‽ (-9.50; -7.03)‽ eState4Column5©2013 "I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist that I used to be" - Barack Obama 04/27/2013 (@eState4Column5).

    by annieli on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 01:02:48 PM PST

    •  So (9+ / 0-)

      more food stamps for our military?

      The food stamps that were just cut of course.

      Close one runway at Area 51 and would could avoid some of this.

      •  They're only serious about cutting... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lava20, GAKeynesian, ER Doc, annieli

        ...the defense budget when they start canceling their latest batch of toys. I deeply love Kos for mentioning that damned F-35 program, the vampire defense program from hell's depths.

        The thing about soldiers, unglamorous things like transport planes and helicopters, they can do more than just kill people. The F-35, the aircraft carriers, the many other toys, they can't do this:

        Air crews from 4th Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado, assist with rescue and recovery operations due to massive flooding near Boulder, Colo., in support of the Colorado National Guard
        ...or this...can a cruise missile do this?

        Join Essa in a revolt against the gods. Continue the fight, Causality.

        by rbird on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 03:55:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  will this cutback allow private armies (Xe) (5+ / 0-)

      instead of our troops?  When say you want to invade Iran?    Or fulfill one of Netanyahu's other wet dreams?

      How can we be sure that this is a premptive step towards privatizing more of our military?

      This is the sleight of hand that the Bush Regime pulled in Iraq, with all their propaganda of "going in with a small force" while using contractors who were paid much more than our grunts and since they had a reduced force they had to use the likes of Halliburton to perform support functions.

      All of which cost far more than supporting and training and keeping in place a reasonably paid military.  And you had private mercenaries running amok in war zones and gouging our service people.

      How can we be sure that by reducing the troop numbers, that another door isn't opened to use private contractors like the infamous Blackwater/Xi/or whatever the hell it calls itself now?  

      How can we find out if this might happen?

      We must not only protect our military, but also those who serve in the military.

      "The corporate state’s repression, now on the brink of totalitarianism, would with the help of Christie, his corporate backers ... become a full-blown corporate fascism.'

      by SeaTurtle on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:22:58 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm sure it's dawned on others, but (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      I don't believe this DOD budget is meant to cut costs.  The cost-cutting measures taken against the troops will never fly in congress, and even if the bill passes, I think Hagel knows the cuts will be restored in future legislative action.  In fact all the cuts in the bill will be loudly opposed by the constituencies affected, and attempts will also be made to restore them as soon as legislatively possible.

      "In this world of sin and sorrow there is always something to be thankful for; as for me, I rejoice that I am not a Republican." - H. L. Mencken

      by SueDe on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 05:12:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  But Kos! (9+ / 0-)

    That would require thought. And common sense. Which isn't very common these days in Washington, apparently. Cut benefits to veterans, or cut payments to defense contractors? I'm not even sure how that's a hard choice, or how they could possibly choose wrong, but it apparently is and they apparently did. Disgusting.

    •  Just as one example of veterans benefits (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Superpole, GAKeynesian

      VA healthcare has saved my life several times over and its at a basically spare no expense level. I know there may be cuts in other areas but benefits for veterans healthcare is not an area that gets short shrift to keep the cash flowing to defense contractors in my case.

      My wife also owes her life to care that is being provided regardless of cost, insurance coverage or how many other people need the same treatment.

      Republicans can do their worst to obstruct providers trying to do their job, hold up funding, or denigrate the efforts being made, but my sense is that dedicated health care professionals are finding ways to improvise adapt and overcome the infrastructure and staffing shortages and the funding is now there to keep up the good work.

      Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

      by rktect on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 03:32:43 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  And, once again, the 99% get the cuts (20+ / 0-)

    and the 1% get their pork.

    Only assholes would make cuts like this.

    I tried to go online to find a similar bear head...but when I searched “Big Bear Head” it gave me a San Diego craigslist ad entitled “Big Bear needs some quick head now” and then I just decided to never go on the internet again.--Jenny Lawson

    by SouthernLiberalinMD on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 01:04:11 PM PST

  •  They are cutting the A-10 (15+ / 0-)

    That may be more to create a false need for the F-35 than anything else.

  •  Query why we don't (16+ / 0-)

    just swap one spending item for another: close the base, cut the weapons program, but send the same amount of money to the state in the form of money for infrastructure repair.

    One we need; one we don't.  So let's buy what we need, and scrap what we don't.

  •  Did you know that when the water at Camp (15+ / 0-)

    Lejuene turned out to be polluted (probably from a nearby dry cleaner) the Senate VA committee proposed paying for the damages to the Marines and their families by closing the DOD commissaries?

    When I wrote about that back in 2011, food stamp use had increased by almost 40% among military families.

    It does seem that every time there is a deficit to fill we turn first to the people who should be last on the list to make a sacrifice.

  •  Making the case based on security (10+ / 0-)

    There is a strong case to be made that we need to cut defense spending in the name of defense. That our current military spending is directed so heavily towards cold-war-era systems that it is not just wasting money, it is making us less safe.

    Generals are always planning to win the last war. That's a cliche by now, and the fact that the Pentagon wants fewer tanks than Congress insists they take indicates that we have some right-thinking people in the Defense Department. We need to empower those people by cutting their budget so far they can readily argue for getting rid of the kind of bloated porkbarrell weapons systems we don't need in favor of the kinds of technology we'll need in the future.

    We don't need to start building a bunch of new weapons. We need to be spending our money building the prototypes of the weapons we'll need to build in the future. If we, heaven forbid, end up in a war with a wealthy, technologically advanced nation again (my money is on China) it won't be won by the country with the best tanks. It will be won by the country with the best sattelites and drones. When a five million dollar drone can shoot down our fancy two hundred million dollar F-35, our money is not being spent wisely. When that F-35 can't navigate because a missile has taken down our comm and nav sattelites we are not spending wisely.

    Let's get the Defense Department out of the business of milking the taxpayer so they can focus on actually protecting us.

    There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

    by BeerNotWar on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 01:28:19 PM PST

    •  If we're at the point.. (8+ / 0-)

      where we're shooting down satellites, then the world is fucked completely. And I don't mean "fucked up", I mean "we're fucked". A lot of modern technology relies on the satellite grid.

      China did an experiment a few years ago where they shot down a satellite. The resulting space debris of just one satellite, located in one of the most populated regions of space, was enough to exponentially increase the difficulties of launching into that orbit.

      What's worse, because of the laws of orbital mechanics, subtle changes in the orbital characteristics caused by, say, a gigantic explosion can cause pieces of a destroyed satellite to fuck things up for stuff that's nowhere near it, if given enough time.

      And what's worst, most of these pieces of debris are so incredibly tiny that they cannot be reliably tracked, as tiny pieces of debris are even more susceptible to atmospheric drag effects than large pieces. (Lower ballistic coefficient, if you're familiar with that.)

      Hi, I'm a rocket scientist, and yes, this kind of stuff really pisses me off, because I'd really like to launch my missions to Europa or Pluto or wherever without having to worry about war debris blowing up my billion dollar spacecraft that I worked on for years.

      TX-17 (Bill Flores-R), TX Sen-14 (Kirk Watson-D), TX HD-50 (Celia Israel-D)

      by Le Champignon on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 01:53:57 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that's the problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        The weaker space power in a conflict has every reason to develop weapons to destroy satellites. It takes away the opponent's advantage without costing the weaker space power anything strategically. The long term consequences for post-war orbital conditions be damned.

        In any case I'd rather have our smartest engineers and strategic thinkers in the DoD worrying about this question than where to park a hundred Abrams tanks they didn't want.

        There's a difference between a responsible gun owner and one that's been lucky so far.

        by BeerNotWar on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 03:34:43 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Drones? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Shit, that war will be fought with hackers, attacking key infrastructure with malware, viruses, etc.  

      •  Not so sure (0+ / 0-)

        Security will continue to improve. You think the Iranians are going to blindly trust SCADA software again?

        (-5.50,-6.67): Left Libertarian
        Leadership doesn't mean taking a straw poll and then just throwing up your hands. -Jyrinx

        by Sparhawk on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 03:07:49 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Your money is on a war with China, (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      and you think it's going to be decided by satellites and drones, not the thousands of nuclear weapons?

      Play chess for the Kossacks on Join the site, then the group at

      by rhutcheson on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 03:16:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  don't forget submarines (0+ / 0-)

      superiority in the undersea is crucial for our future defense

  •  Kos, Surely 400,000 in the Army is enough? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You're right that several weapons systems need to be axed as well.

    Why do we need a standing army that large?  Afghanistan is coming to a close.  Iraq is over, theoretically.

    You expect a LAND WAR with China?

    Being able to project force around the world is important, and you can don't that without the carriers and the subs.  The Navy and Coast Guard are important.  

    But we don't need to stop the Soviets in Europe with the Army.

    Happy little moron, Lucky little man.
    I wish I was a moron, MY GOD, Perhaps I am!
    —Spike Milligan

    by polecat on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 01:46:23 PM PST

    •  Afghanistan coming to a close....yet... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      polecat, Calamity Jean

      this feels like something out of Blazing Saddles...

      Washington (CNN) -- We're not bluffing, the Obama administration told Afghanistan on Tuesday in announcing it has started planning for the possible withdrawal of all U.S. troops by the end of the year if no security agreement is signed.

      Statements by the White House and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel showed President Barack Obama's impatience with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai's refusal to sign the agreement that would keep several thousand American troops in the country after combat operations conclude this year.

      so, if I understand this correctly, if the Afghanistan government doesn't sign an agreement to keep US troops there, the US is threatening to remove the troops. Eh, what?

      Meanwhile, if we're no longer fighting in Iraq, if we're leaving Afghanistan, then we can demobilize. That'd save some money.

      Dear NSA: I am only joking.

      by Shahryar on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:34:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Karzai wants to have his cake and eat it too (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        RandomNonviolence, polecat
        so, if I understand this correctly, if the Afghanistan government doesn't sign an agreement to keep US troops there, the US is threatening to remove the troops. Eh, what?
        US troops are pretty much the only reason Karzai's still alive, never mind the titular President of Afghanistan.  If we leave, he's dead and the Taliban come roaring back because the Taliban are really just the Pashtun ethnic militia, the Pashtun being the largest and dominant ethnic group in Afghanistan (with plenty of cousins across the border in Pakistan).

        At the same time, Karzai doesn't dare say or do anything to confirm his dependence on American support and his desire to have us stay at least as long as he's alive.  What passes for his popular support would evaporate instantly.

        So Karzai's saying no, confident that we'll stay anyway even without a Status of Forces Agreement.  We're saying we're leaving unless he says yes, because we really, really want that piece of paper giving us official permission to stay forever and operate above local law.

        Domestic politics is the continuation of civil war by other means.

        by Visceral on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:50:21 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  400,000?? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      polecat, Calamity Jean

      considering that in the sandbox wars the tail to spearhead ratio has been leaning towards the pointy end, 400,000 men army maybe sufficient.

      Another great saving eliminate the contractors. If those retired cols and generals are so sharp then let them stay on, but take them out of the promotion chain. why is it a profit center at a office complex in Alexandria VA, but not at Andrews AFB? I know Andrews has a new designation, but teaching old dogs...

      I remember hearing in Germany that qualified people who aged out of the promotion window were retained at the job they did well, without further promotions. But German military is part of civil service.

  •  Before closing bases (4+ / 0-)

    Let's enact a vision for public reuse for the often very useful public infrastructure and lands.  Like was done in the creation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.  

    So unlike the last round of base closures where the only contemplated use was heavily taxpayer subsidized privatization.  With many elected officials from both parties making millions off those dirty deals.

    The privatization of the country’s assets (such as health, education and water) for profit can only release destructive forces. - World Teacher Maitreya 1989

    •  Great Idea (3+ / 0-)

      I shuddered at the thought of Ft Ord being closed and turned over to developers. Why not turn military installations into federal/state dual use parks. Or like the rocky Mountain Arsenal make it a wild life preserve, cheaper than cleaning some of these areas up. Let nature do it.

      We may need some of this real estate for yet unforeseen uses.

  •  When factored for inflation our defense (6+ / 0-)

    budget is exceedingly bloated. I think we could cut $250 billion out and not hurt national security.

    Speaking from firsthand experience, what needs to be cut are weapons programs and not troops and troop related items. It would also help if both the civil sector and the military sector of the government were incentivized to save money rather than wildly and needlessly spend it like drunken sailors at the end of each fiscal year.

    During my 21 years on active duty I can't tell you how many times someone franctically ran into my office and said something to the effect, "Get your wish list out and bring it to the conferene room; we have XXX hunderd thousand dollars to spend in an hour.

    Guns are never the principal in the commission of a crime, but they are usually an accomplice

    by MadGeorgiaDem on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 01:48:36 PM PST

    •  I can believe that (4+ / 0-)

      As a former "toy maker" (Subs and Carriers at Newport News Shipbuilding) and having compared notes with some people in the aircraft sector, we are building systems to meet profit expectations of MIC entities, not to support foreseeable missions or our men and women in uniform.

      Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. --Martin Luther King Jr.

      by Egalitare on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:03:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Off topic, but still... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MadGeorgiaDem, Calamity Jean

      "Get your wish list out and bring it to the conference room; we have XXX hundred thousand dollars to spend in an hour."

      This happens in education too. Economize all year and spend frantically at the end or the Gov't will take it back. And you don't even have time to plan what you need!

  •  Ya (0+ / 0-)

    I'm sure Hillary wouldn't do this...


    The Republicans are crazy, but why we follow them down the rabbit hole is beyond me.

    by Jazzenterprises on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 01:54:12 PM PST

  •  Interestingly, many of those contractors (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Square Knot

    are working those jobs after leaving the military, and are doing so because they're afraid about their retirement security and/or afraid that they'll lose benefits.

    I like Marsha Blackburn on Facebook. Don't hate.

    by Benintn on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 01:55:08 PM PST

  •  As long as defense spending is more than (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    the next ten countries combined there'll never be "enough" money in the budget for other things.

    "Onward through the fog!" - Oat Willie

    by rocksout on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:08:14 PM PST

  •  We don't need 2,300 F-35s (0+ / 0-)

    with each plane costing somewhere between $182 million to $299 million.  

    "If Wall Street paid a tax on every “game” they run, we would get enough revenue to run the government on." ~ Will Rogers

    by Lefty Coaster on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:09:03 PM PST

    •  I would argue that to be more precise, we need (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      planes like F-35 (low radar visibility) due to the growing proliferation of better and better than anti-air capability.

      What we DON'T need is the over-priced Swiss-Army knife plane like F-35 (Jack of many Trades, Master of None).

  •  As a guy who recently made a nice living (6+ / 0-)

    as a military contractor, I can't agree they have no natural constituency. The practice has, however, gotten crazy.

    The personnel cuts I've heard mentioned are no less crazy: gut the mid-level officers. Rather than trimming off the surfeit of generals, there's talk of drastically thinning out the rising cadre who have learned, first-hand the lessons of our recent misadventures, precisely the people we want to see advance and assume flag command.

    Cut the generals, not the captains. And while you're at it, look into those generals' discretionary travel budgets. Insane.

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:09:17 PM PST

  •  Hmm, more centrist kabuki, huh (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    So we DFH's are supposed to think we're downsizing the Imperial Empire when we're just making it safe for the plutocrats to profit from it.

  •  odd that we are still preparing to fight the Cold (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RandomNonviolence, Calamity Jean

    War, against an opponent who has not existed for almost a quarter-century . . .  

    With all due humility, I suggest we accept the USSR's surrender, and cut the big bloated unnecessary military down to a level that at least approaches sanity.

    In the end, reality always wins.

    by Lenny Flank on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:11:34 PM PST

  •  Not only that, but cutting the A-10 program is (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VelvetElvis, ItsaMathJoke, Simplify

    stupid.  It is the only aircraft not a helicopter that can do close ground support, has a very high survivability rate and costs much less than the F35 ($11.5 million vs. $135 million per aircraft).  The Army loves the A-10, but I guess the Air Force needs the more expensive toy.

    To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

    by dizzydean on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:12:00 PM PST

    •  I still think (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RandomNonviolence, dizzydean

      that drones can do the job, not just cheaper, but with even less risk of loss of life in case the aircraft gets shot down.

      •  Hi kos...I don't think the drones are at the stage (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Calamity Jean

        yet to be as effective.  The A-10 has a lot more firepower (the drones currently only have two Hellfire missiles attached) and can use its 30mm gun to take down targets that a missile would not be able to.  They can also make multiple strafing runs if the target is infantry.  

        We have only lost 5 A10s since they were brought into the inventory in 1976 (4 during the Gulf War) so the risk to the pilot is pretty low.  

        I guess if we fought Russia or China there  might be a higher casualty count, but it seems that the pilots are pretty safe in the vehicle, especially given its survivability rate after being hit.

        The Air Force seems to believe that guided munitions deployed from the F35 at a distance is the answer.  But, as we know from other "smart" technology, what is advertized as accuracy in target acquisition is not always the truth upon further review...

        To be free and just depends on us. Victor Hugo.

        by dizzydean on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 04:08:12 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Sometimes pay needs to be cut. (0+ / 0-)

    Both for military employees, and for civilian ones. Obviously, not excessively. But it needs to happen sometimes, and there is no reason why the military and only the military should be exempt from cuts (which is a view shared by many Democratic and Republican candidates).

    •  The issue is that those cuts are happening when (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RandomNonviolence, Calamity Jean

      there are SO many other things we can cut (F-35, for example).

      •  Special Forces to gain 3k men. (0+ / 0-)

        I keep wondering where all these special individuals come from? Are we depriving of regular line battalions of the leadership core?

        The French Foreign Legion per Simon Murray has trouble keeping their Legion up to pitch, there are not enough little wars and special ops to go around apparently.

    •  But these cuts (pay and otherwise) (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean

      are borne more by the low end of the wage scale in both the military and civilian forces.  

      Just as in the world of "private" business, the ones who can afford it least are the first to see there paychecks shrink.  The ones at the top rarely bear this kind of burden, just like  CEOs.

      Thin out the top ranks; incentivize those in the middle who have "learned the lessons" of the last decade; cut the disproportionate pay scales at the top and then (egads!  don't faint!)... distribute that savings to those in the bottom and lower-middle ranks of both military and civilian forces.

      You do realize we're screaming for pay increases for people who make minimum wage contracting in DC, as well as in private business -- but do you have any idea how many there are of us in both the military and civil services who barely (if that) make a living family wage?!  And yes... some of us veterans have gone into civil service for a variety of reasons... but believe me, most of us are not getting a CEO wage scale!!!  (Not to mention, for years now no pay raises and merit increases killed after they've been awarded to you!)

  •  We need the jobs for those who are not (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ready for college right out of high school.

    This sounds a whole lot like people are getting replaced by technology.

    The nice thing about the military -- when it doesn't mean harming our good troops -- is that it provides training, room/board, education and THOSE ARE THE THINGS WE SHOULD KEEP AT ALL COSTS until there is zero unemployment.

    Our troops have plenty to do with infrastructure, etc.

    Let's keep what's WORKING.

    Separation of Church and State AND Corporation

    by Einsteinia on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:13:18 PM PST

  •  Truck Driving and being in the Military (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RandomNonviolence, Calamity Jean

    Are two jobs that a person without a college education can do and make a living and maybe even move up in the world.

    They lifted the ban on trucks coming from Mexico a while back and now they are going to screw the people in the military.

    Wonder what the country would think if all the gov't employees and all the military personell would just walk off the job for 3 or 4 days??

  •  I know you're a vet and all, but Cut Military YES (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RandomNonviolence, Superpole

    We need to reduce the military budget on EVERY front, not just hardware.

    While I agree, cutting wages and benefits for government workers - including troops - is a bad way to go,  I do NOT agree that we need so many government workers in those jobs.

    We need to demobilize Divisions of soldiers, Armadas of sailors and squadrons of flyers.   Not reduce their pay.  Eliminate their positions.

    Transition them to a new CCC or road building or school building or water conservation projects or etc. etc.

    There are many many many productive jobs that military personnel could be doing - for the government or private industry, besides being a paid killer.

    Having military forces deployed in all the places we are does NOT "keep us safe" or "defend our freedom".  Military operations make us less safe and undermine our freedom.

    it has ever been so.

  •  Cut the size of the civilian workforce (0+ / 0-)

    and introduce a few hundred thousand unemployed into the system.

    Because that's more merciful than touching soldier raises.

    by DAISHI on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:19:28 PM PST

    •  So... (0+ / 0-)

      you're arguing for a continually bloated Pentagon budget? Because the political reality is that cutting troop pay and benefits -- whether you agree with it or not -- is never going to happen.

  •  We should do a FDR again and ban profiteering (3+ / 0-)

    in our military contracts. If an individual or company are caught profiteering off of the American taxpayer they should be taxed at a 100% rate over say $3 million a year profit. That would end the power of these profiteers over our budget process and from controlling our elections.

    Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

    by RMForbes on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:20:54 PM PST

    •  FDR didn't do anything to stop profiteering and (0+ / 0-)

      rorting by defence/war contractors. It was the work of the Truman Committee who saved the 000s of millions. Would that they had such a body these days; but then again in those days you had elected representatives who looked beyond party partisanship.

      •  Not true, it was FDR that asked Congress for (0+ / 0-)

        a 100% top income tax marginal rate upon annual incomes over $300,000 specifically in order to prevent war profiteering. Congress didn't give him the 100% top marginal tax rate he was asking for but did increase the top marginal tax rate to 92%. The top marginal income tax rate remained over 90% until 1964 when LBJ signed the Income Tax reform law proposed by JFK that lowered the top marginal rate to 76% but actually increased the effective tax rates for the very wealthy by eliminating many loopholes that had developed to get around the high top marginal tax rate.

        Really don't mind if you sit this one out. My words but a whisper -- your deafness a SHOUT. I may make you feel but I can't make you think..Jethro Tull

        by RMForbes on Wed Feb 26, 2014 at 11:41:50 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  We have spent trillion on military (0+ / 0-)

    The US has only a few  real adversaries that can match us  power to power,lots of this is driven by congress wanting thier piece of the military  pie ,reinvesting the military money into the civilain world  ,we could all profit  as a society

  •  I sometimes think DoD uses troops as a hostage. (6+ / 0-)

    I spent 30 years in the Navy, the last six of which were in Washington, DC.  Believe me when I tell you there are PLENTY of places DoD can cut spending before going after service members.  The blatant inefficiency and waste is incredibly obvious.

    I think DoD knows exactly what it's doing.  In order to minimize budget cuts, Service Members and Veterans are one of their first bargaining chips because they know the public, the powerful Veterans' lobby, and members of Congress will be outraged. (Although, I don't think Congress truly gives a shit except the optics of cutting Veterans' benefits are horrendous.)  So Congress backs down on slashing the DoD budget to save the Vets and DoD remains as bloated as ever.

    "Don't cut my budget or the Veteran gets it!!!"

    Just a theory.

    "I never meant to say that the conservatives are generally stupid. I meant to say that stupid people are generally conservative." - John Stuart Mill

    by Kevinole on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:29:28 PM PST

  •  It depends on what you want (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    ...the politics to do.

    There is a strategic review due out this year.  The public needs to look at that because it will be the first post-Afghanistan strategic review.  What is the real situation that will be shaping what kind of military we need.

    IMO, this is Hagel giving a heads up to the military-industrial complex lobby to get ready and set, and it starts with the grassroots folks.  He's already gotten the National Guard Association and the American Legion going on the troops issue.

    By far the biggest policy issue is the continuation of a very expensive global forward deployment that looks to the rest of the world like a global imperial grab.  And has proved to be extraordinary overreach economically for a single nation.

    Troops numbers are a bogus indicator of strength.  Unless you know the composition of skills in those numbers and the purported enemy or enemies that it is to be arrayed against.

    I smell a DC strategy for business as usual with more austerity on the domestic side of the budget.  It is what I call military Keynesianism--the military (and contractors) as the employers of last resort.

    50 states, 210 media market, 435 Congressional Districts, 3080 counties, 192,480 precincts

    by TarheelDem on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:32:40 PM PST

  •  So I responded... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    judyms9, Calamity Jean

    to a Ron Paul fan who posted about this when a friend said "HAGEL IS THE MAN" by saying, "... that Rand Paul tried to filibuster."

    That, of course, set him off, so he responded:

    Obama murders children all day. I guess since the fact that everything Rand Paul does makes you correlate him to me, I guess I should start doing the same thing to you to see how ridiculous your collectivist mentality is. So I guess that means you support dead children, right?
    Any policy issue, immediately with the dead children.  Kinda hard to have any kind of debate with a libertarian if that's how they start things off.  But that's how they think.

    And they're growing in number, people.

    •  Their numbers are growing because their ideas (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      are simplistic and solipsistic.  Oddly, many of them are religious fundamentalists, which seems as though it wouldn't compute but it works for them because nuance and complexity are for wooses, Establishment types, and bs artists, I guess.  Of course, the Kochs are funding the big libertarian revival and are abetted by Freedom Works and other big money cannons.  So there's that.

      Building a better America with activism, cooperation, ingenuity and snacks.

      by judyms9 on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:49:40 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  A white paper out of West Point noted (3+ / 0-)

    that the illegal invasion of Iraq would eventually result in the inability to fund the hardware that the military requires for the future readiness.

    He noted the human side of the equation would require deep cuts and abandonment after their honorable service to their country... so that the hardware needs could continue to flow.

    Bush Co didn't give a shit and Congressional Republicans didn't listen.

    One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious. --Carl Jung

    by bronte17 on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:46:54 PM PST

  •  The 1% that protect the rest of us (0+ / 0-)

    are already on their uppers.  45% of enlisted qualify for food stamps, others can't get them that need them.  The commissaries have been co-opted by big, brand corporations long ago and have price cutting strictures on them already. Base housing is privatized and falling in on itself while a property management corporation rakes it in. 40,000 personnel were cut in 2007 for no reason other than, well, they needed the money for who knows what.  More have been cut every year since due to sequester etc. VA cases take over a year to get through.  Medical care, on base or off is proprietary to Big Pharma. And please, get off the USAF's case, they aren't the only ones pimping their generals' wish list.  Did you all watch the bidding war for Boeing a few months ago?

    But everyone seems to think we can do security with drones and black ops teams....or are we still "against that" on DK?

    ~Arianna_Editrix-- I willingly accept Cassandra’s fate, To speak the truth, altho’ believ’d too late

    by Arianna Editrix on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 02:50:02 PM PST

  •  Is there at White House petition up yet? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm all for totally eliminating most of the fancy planes because they don't even come in over budget- they're never finished!

  •  Cutting Carriers (0+ / 0-)

    The cost of cutting our carrier fleet will outweigh the dollar savings. The aircraft carrier is the backbone of the United States defensive and offensive capabilities. The existing 10* (CVN-68 through CVN-77, CVN-78, the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, has yet to go into active service and effectively replaced the U.S.S. John F. Kennedy, and the Nimitz and Eisenhower are due to be replaced by the new Kennedy and Enterprise, respectively) are the most versatile weapons in the military.

    Downsizing the fleet is a fair argument, especially with the continuation of the Ticonderoga-class Cruisers and the massive and relatively outdated fleet of Arleigh-Burkes and OHP frigates. Inter-naval combat is dying and these light ships should be first on the list of cuts as we look into the next century as all three are set to be replaced by the Littoral Combat Ships and Zumwalts.

    An argument to cut back on our armored reserves, F-35s, etc. is welcomed and needed, but the supercarriers should be treated like the thousands of troops on-board, untouchable. No expansion needed, no cuts required.

  •  A smaller standing army in 2002 (0+ / 0-)

    might gotten Bush/Cheney to be more reluctant to get us into two simultaneous wars/occupations - the fewer troops and the lower the expenditures the better.

    Play chess for the Kossacks on Join the site, then the group at

    by rhutcheson on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 03:24:20 PM PST

  •  Correct; This is Small Beer, Compared with (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    the pathetic, grossly OVER budget F-35.

    the fact democrats in congress allow this travesty, this rip-off to continue is very disturbing and weak.

    "We are beyond law, which is not unusual for an empire; unfortunately, we are also beyond common sense." Gore Vidal

    by Superpole on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 03:50:13 PM PST

  •  Contractors (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    We are very undermanned and have been for a while due to civilian hiring freezes.  Positions keep going vacant (resignations, transfers, retirements) and we can't fill them.  Military positions are being cut and reserves slashed.  Top-ranking officers and enlisted (who are about to retire with full benefits and 30 years in) keep telling us it's "obscene" and "unfair" to pay troops what they were promised.  We've been told over and over that we shouldn't expect a retirement.  We're told to hire freely!  Go for it!  Use them to fill the gap!  Never mind that they are more expensive in most cases.  Never mind that proper oversight of contracts requires almost an extra person to manage.  Never mind that with all the expertise moved to contract positions, there is nobody left with the expertise to properly oversee the contract.  There is absurd waste in contract positions.  Oh, and of course they are usually non-union jobs with limited benefits and no retirement.

    What's really ironic is how all the politicians preached for 10 years about how they needed to raise military pay and benefits for parity with civilians, to compensate us adequately for out service, etc.  Now the exact same people are saying they need to roll back our pay and benefits because it's too expensive.  Goodness.  Get your act together, people.  While Congress figures it out, we'll keep doing what we've done all along: standing the watch - all over the world.

  •  What's more (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ModerateJosh, Calamity Jean

    The plan emphasizes the need for technically-trained or specialist troops. Just the people who can go out into the civilian world and succeed. So of course we discourage them from making a career of the Armed Services. Smart!

  •  Cutting commissary benefits (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Calamity Jean

    has a disproportionate affect on the lower ranks.  An E-5 with a spouse and two kids would probably have approximately the same grocery bill as an O-3 with a spouse and two kids.  The lower ranks don't eat less just because they're paid less, they just have less money left over to spend on other things, or to save.  

    If one assumes the commissary savings to be 30% compared to shopping at the local grocery store, a $100 dollar grocery bill at the commissary would be $130 at the grocery store.  (I'll bet that a family of four typically spends quite a bit more than $100 per week on groceries, but just to work with round numbers, I'll go with that.)
    Annual spending of $5,200 at the commissary = $6,760 at the local grocery store.
    Annual savings = $1,560

    To keep the comparison simple, I've used only Base Pay plus Basic Allowance for Subsistence from the 2014 military pay tables.  The annual pay for the two families would be:
    E-5:  $37,104
    O-3:  $67,914

    It's easy to see why this disproportionately affects the lower ranks.  The savings represents 4.2% of annual gross pay for the enlisted person versus 2.3% for the officer.

    "The best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. The second best time is now." - Chinese proverb

    by VALuddite on Tue Feb 25, 2014 at 06:50:17 PM PST

    •  They are not eliminating commissaries (0+ / 0-)

      They are reducing the subsidies.  As best I can tell, this is the only actual adjustment that could result in a reduction to a current soldiers compensation.  But won't be the full 30% of price reduction.  It will be something less.

  •  Bah (0+ / 0-)

    This post is way too indiscriminate. Enlisted guys don't make much money and their compensation should be 100% protected.   Officers, on the other hand, range from well compensated to insanely overly compensated. There's no single government position more corruptly and overly coddled than a general in the US military.

    I read a Washington Post article with a bunch of boo-hooing from a colonel who retired from the military by age 45, started a new business, but threw down a gauntlet about nothing more than declines in the rate at which his 80K pension per year for life grows to a larger amount. I have to tell you, that makes me sick.

    People have no idea how privileged they are. Good for Hagel.

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