It is unlikely there are many Americans who would disagree that Republicans love spending taxpayer dollars on the military; especially if they can cut domestic spending in the process. It is no secret that while Republicans claim the nation cannot afford to spend a penny on the people, infrastructure, healthcare, housing programs, or education, they always find billions upon billions to spend to enrich the defense industry. Even though America is not at war for the first time in over a decade, Republicans are looking for ways to increase the already bloated defense budget they claim is woefully underfunded. And, as is their wont, they are targeting domestic programs due to their regard for the “out-of-control” and “unsustainable deficit.”
The GOP is using the alleged “existential threat” of Islamic extremists in an around Iraq and Syria as a reason to call for more defense spending; particularly in light of the Pentagon cuts in their precious ‘sequester’ going back to 2012. There is still 8 years left of the sequestration cuts affecting the entire government. President Obama has proposed eliminating the sequester’s cuts across the board with a combination of eliminating the wealthy’s tax loopholes and careful spending cuts that amount to a fairly equal balance of an additional $38 billion for the Pentagon and $37 billion for domestic programs.
The increase in spending on both the Pentagon and domestic programs only relieves the drastic cuts from the sequester and is not any kind of drunken spending spree, but Republicans are having none of it. In their minds, the only means of restoring defense spending is adding to the sequester’s domestic cuts to fund the defense industry. This is unacceptable. Particularly since the nation already spends an inordinate amount of the budget on the military during peacetime. However, in Republicans’ minds, there is never enough money devoted to the Pentagon no matter how much of the country’s budget goes to the defense industry, or how much they have to cut domestic spending to profit the military industrial complex that is breaking the nation.
Republicans claim that their precious sequester dealt a virtual death blow to the Pentagon because it “cuts core spending on the military’s ships, planes, and myriad other warfighting equipment.” Out of the $1 trillion budget deal negotiated last December, Republicans are complaining that instead of a (pre-sequester) core budget of $577 billion, defense spending is going to be limited to $523 billion according to the Congressional Budget Office. A senior member of the House Armed Service Committee, Michael Conaway (R-TX), complained that “We really cannot put a 2016 spending plan together at the $523 billion level. That’s just unacceptable. We have to fix it somehow.” Conaway fails to mention that there are tens-of-billions allotted to the Pentagon that do not show up on any budget or “spending plan” that by far exceeds the $577 billion figure, but Republicans have to “fix it” by enacting more domestic spending cuts.
It is noteworthy that in this year’s budget, well over 55% of all government spending is for the military, and with service members only getting a 1% pay increase this year, the lion’s share of over half the budget is going to benefit the private defense industry during peacetime. Still, it is not nearly sufficient for Republicans who want more spending for the military without adding to the deficit. Therefore, to avoid adding to the deficit, they want the $38 billion extra in military spending covered by $38 billion in cuts to domestic programs; the $38 billion in cuts is on top of the already enacted $37 billion sequester cuts from domestic programs because as the nation’s “deficit hawks” are quick to counsel, the American people have to make sacrifices.
However, the deficit hawks had no deficit concerns just last week when they passed $100 billion worth of permanently unfunded tax cuts for the rich that will increase the deficit in perpetuity. They are also unconcerned that a giant share of the current deficit is due to the cost of the Bush-Republicans’ unfunded Iraq and Afghanistan wars that will end up costing $6 trillion over the next decade. That $6 trillion price tag does not include the interest that is accruing the entire time adding to the deficit.
Now, the deficit hawks insist that the much-needed spending increases for the military have to be financed by cutting domestic programs that some Republicans warn would drag out a budget battle for months. They are vaguely aware that it will not be a simple process to rob an additional $38 billion from domestic programs without controlling the White House. The President and some Democrats rightfully demand an equal amount of increases for domestic agencies that benefit all Americans and not just the military industrial complex that includes the two Koch brothers controlling their newly-purchased Republican Congress. The Koch brothers have several substantial, multi-million dollar contracts with the Defense Department and will benefit greatly when Republicans rob domestic programs to increase defense spending.
The level of hypocrisy from Republicans’ phony deficit concerns is stunning; particularly hardliners who champion $100 billion in unfunded tax cuts but want to impose “tighter limits” when the military and domestic programs are involved. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell represents the mindset of so-called deficit hawks who demand that “any increase in defense spending can only come from raiding non-defense programs that help all Americans.” McConnell said, “I want more money for defense, but I want the overall (sequestration) cap to stay in place and just restore the money for defense. But the Democrats want to restore money on the domestic side too.” It is safe to assume that the American people want domestic spending restored as well, but Republicans are opposed to anything the American people want, or need, regardless how basic.
No American denies that this country needs a robust, well-funded military. However, this country also needs sufficiently funded domestic programs, including a functioning infrastructure, that have taken the brunt of Republican austerity cuts borne of phony deficit concerns. In fact, there has been precious little, if any, increase in domestic program spending across the board over the past fifteen years and it is why the richest nation on Earth is falling behind every other industrialized nation in the world.
No-one seems to bemoan that over half the nation’s total spending goes to the military industrial complex that Republicans claim is insufficient. Their solution is adding $38 billion worth of domestic cuts to the sequester to prop up the defense budget and “rein in the deficit” in one easy step. The rapidly-falling deficit, by the way, that Republicans have no qualms increasing by $100 billion for permanently unfunded tax cuts for the rich, but are concerned will be unsustainable by additionally funding the already bloated military to the tune of $38 billion. Their twisted, dysfunctional logic is only matched by their dastardly plan to raid domestic programs to enrich their wealthy donors in the private defense industry.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.