Winslow Wheeler writes An Inadequate Defense Budget? Compared to Whom? Compared to When?
|Many Republicans and numerous Democrats, especially on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, have been characterizing the US defense budget as inadequate. They propose to release the Pentagon from the statutory spending caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 and its "sequestration," which would keep some, but not all, Pentagon spending in the neighborhood of $500 billion, annually, for several years. The Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of Defense and any other Pentagon official near a microphone have been cheering them on.
There is a major mismatch between the actual size of the US defense budget and the characterization of inadequacy given to it. The enormity of the US defense budget, even under sequestration, is readily apparent in both relative and absolute terms.That we today declare ourselves inadequately funded at a far higher level of spending than we budgeted against a much larger, much more hostile threat is remarkable. More money in the face of lesser threats is not quite the penury so many claim. [...]
This graph shows the Pentagon's post-World War Two budgets in dollars adjusted for inflation. Note how today's so-called "inadequate" spending compares to average annual spending during the Cold War (the dashed, horizontal line, which occurs at the $355 billion level).
Second, we should listen closely when today's political and military leaders asset they cannot manage at the spending levels they face under the Budget Control Act. They are quite correct to say they are unable to do so. Recent history proves that.
• Our military hardware is outrageously expensive, but much of it is a step backwards in performance.
• Since the mid-1990s Congress has increased money for DOD pay and benefits but huge portions of it has been for indiscriminant, across-the-board military pay raises, double pensions for many armed service retirees, bigger benefits for the survivors of World War Two veterans and much else that is intended to buy off political constituencies rather than address real security problems, let alone the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
• Under the full-on spigot of the post-9/11 era, the Pentagon's civilian and military leadership has bloated itself to historically unprecedented levels of overhead, including military staff, civilian government employees and contracted-out personnel.
• In their ultimate malfeasance, none of our national security leaders have bothered to fundamentally understand the dimension of the overspending problem as the Pentagon remains unaudited and un-auditable twenty-four years after the passage of the Chief Financial Officers Act of 1990-intended to require the Pentagon to understand and report what it does with its money.
The relationship of US defense spending to that of presumed threat nations and the girth of contemporary defense spending compared to a time of greater threat does not call into question the adequacy of the size of today's US defense budget; it calls into question the competence of current US political and military leadership, both in the Pentagon and in Congress.
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2006—We Need You to Save the Internet!:
|Sounds hyperbolic, no? It's not. The House Commerce Committee is likely to vote as early as Wednesday on legislation that would essentially hand over the keys to the Internet to the giant telcos, AT&T, Verizon, Time Warner, and Comcast.
It's hard to imagine that the Internet, that vast free-flowing world of entertainment, enlightenment, education, and interaction could be fettered, but under this legislation it very well could be. Internet service provision in the U.S. is covered by telecommunications law, and has operated under the idea of "network neutrality." In it's early years, telephone companies provided most Web service, and carried most of the traffic. Because of the nature of laws regulating phone service, Web traffic was handled just like phone traffic, each "call" being equal. That means every page you surf to on the Internet is served up just like any other, as far as your ISP is concerned. You can go from Amazon.com to Aunt Harriet's family history blog equally.
Here's what's at stake with this legislation.
On today's Kagro in the Morning show, Cliven Bundy, ladies and gentlemen! Greg Dworkin parses Kaiser polling on healthcare in four southern states, and then sets the agenda for the day with Harold Pollock's "Pre-Occupied with Medicaid Expansion." Did Occupy "accomplish" anything? Was it a thing that could be measured by that metric? Is the drive for concrete results what sets the "Moral Mondays" movement apart from it? Are they set apart from one another? Also: NC Gop Senate field all deny climate change. And about that "US is an oligarchy" thing, let's take another look at that.