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Frank Wants Defense Budget Cut 25%

From The Nation:

Cut the Military Budget—II

By Barney Frank

This article appeared in the March 2, 2009 edition of The Nation.

I am a great believer in freedom of expression and am proud of those times when I have been one of a few members of Congress to oppose censorship. I still hold close to an absolutist position, but I have been tempted recently to make an exception, not by banning speech but by requiring it. I would be very happy if there was some way to make it a misdemeanor for people to talk about reducing the budget deficit without including a recommendation that we substantially cut military spending.

Sadly, self-described centrist and even liberal organizations often talk about the need to curtail deficits by cutting Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and other programs that have a benign social purpose, but they fail to talk about one area where substantial budget reductions would have the doubly beneficial effect of cutting the deficit and diminishing expenditures that often do more harm than good. Obviously people should be concerned about the $700 billion Congress voted for this past fall to deal with the credit crisis. But even if none of that money were to be paid back–and most of it will be–it would involve a smaller drain on taxpayer dollars than the Iraq War will have cost us by the time it is concluded, and it is roughly equivalent to the $651 billion we will spend on all defense in this fiscal year.

When I am challenged by people–not all of them conservative–who tell me that they agree, for example, that we should enact comprehensive universal healthcare but wonder how to pay for it, my answer is that I do not know immediately where to get the funding but I know whom I should ask. I was in Congress on September 10, 2001, and I know there was no money in the budget at that time for a war in Iraq. So my answer is that I will go to the people who found the money for that war and ask them if they could find some for healthcare.

It is particularly inexplicable that so many self-styled moderates ignore the extraordinary increase in military spending. After all, George W. Bush himself has acknowledged its importance. As the December 20 Wall Street Journal notes, "The president remains adamant his budget troubles were the result of a ramp-up in defense spending." Bush then ends this rare burst of intellectual honesty by blaming all this "ramp-up" on the need to fight the war in Iraq.

Current plans call for us not only to spend hundreds of billions more in Iraq but to continue to spend even more over the next few years producing new weapons that might have been useful against the Soviet Union. Many of these weapons are technological marvels, but they have a central flaw: no conceivable enemy. It ought to be a requirement in spending all this money for a weapon that there be some need for it. In some cases we are developing weapons–in part because of nothing more than momentum–that lack not only a current military need but even a plausible use in any foreseeable future.

It is possible to debate how strong America should be militarily in relation to the rest of the world. But that is not a debate that needs to be entered into to reduce the military budget by a large amount. If, beginning one year from now, we were to cut military spending by 25 percent from its projected levels, we would still be immeasurably stronger than any combination of nations with whom we might be engaged.

Implicitly, some advocates of continued largesse for the Pentagon concede that the case cannot be made fully in terms of our need to be safe from physical attack. Ironically–even hypocritically, since many of those who make the case are in other contexts anti-government spending conservatives–they argue for a kind of weaponized Keynesianism that says military spending is important because it provides jobs and boosts the economy. Spending on military hardware does produce some jobs, but it is one of the most inefficient ways to deploy public funds to stimulate the economy. When I asked him years ago what he thought about military spending as stimulus, Alan Greenspan, to his credit, noted that from an economic standpoint military spending was like insurance: if necessary to meet its primary need, it had to be done, but it was not good for the economy; and to the extent that it could be reduced, the economy would benefit.

The math is compelling: if we do not make reductions approximating 25 percent of the military budget starting fairly soon, it will be impossible to continue to fund an adequate level of domestic activity even with a repeal of Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

I am working with a variety of thoughtful analysts to show how we can make very substantial cuts in the military budget without in any way diminishing the security we need. I do not think it will be hard to make it clear to Americans that their well-being is far more endangered by a proposal for substantial reductions in Medicare, Social Security or other important domestic areas than it would be by canceling weapons systems that have no justification from any threat we are likely to face.

So those organizations, editorial boards and individuals who talk about the need for fiscal responsibility should be challenged to begin with the area where our spending has been the most irresponsible and has produced the least good for the dollars expended–our military budget. Both parties have for too long indulged the implicit notion that military spending is somehow irrelevant to reducing the deficit and have resisted applying to military spending the standards of efficiency that are applied to other programs. If we do not reduce the military budget, either we accustom ourselves to unending and increasing budget deficits, or we do severe harm to our ability to improve the quality of our lives through sensible public policy.

We can’t find Part I, but you can guess.

Just as you can guess how Mr. Obama is going to “cut the deficit.”

Spending on military hardware does produce some jobs, but it is one of the most inefficient ways to deploy public funds to stimulate the economy.

Sure. Just ask anyone.

Ask FDR.

So those organizations, editorial boards and individuals who talk about the need for fiscal responsibility should be challenged to begin with the area where our spending has been the most irresponsible and has produced the least good for the dollars expended–our military budget.

But who can argue with logic like this?

Luckily for Mr. Frank, and unfortunately for our country, he has the votes and he will get his way.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, February 22nd, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

36 Responses to “Frank Wants Defense Budget Cut 25%”

  1. U NO HOO says:

    More BS from the Chicken-plucker.

  2. mrfocus says:

    oh good the banking queen is gonna due his magic on our national defense.

  3. proreason says:

    If you elect me to office, I will withdraw all military personnel and protection from Drooling Barney’s district.

    He can have the budget savings to spend on his photo collection of little boys.

    • JohnMG says:

      Somebody remind me. Is Barney ‘pitching’ or ‘catching’?

    • proreason says:

      Baney’s problem is that he can’t find any perverts sick enough to play ball with him….so he takes it out on the country.

      That’s Rosey O’Donnel’s problem too.

  4. Rusty Shackleford says:

    It’s deja-vu all over again…..again.

    Lessee….1939…hollow military, unprepared, ill-equipped. I guess the good thing is that when another nation lands us one on the chin, there will be a sudden surge in enlistment and we’ll have teh largest military in the world in…oh…say……NEVER. This time our manufacturing capability is at or near zero so a repeat of the 1941-45 tenfold increase in manufacturing war materiel is not going to happen.

    Meanwhile, Mr Fwank will continue to “kill the wabbit” in the Elmer Fudd-lian universe that he lives.

    Liberals hate the military. Nowadays, instead of spitting on GI’s they simply tell them with a patronizing tone, “We support the troops”. No they don’t and they never will. To them, donning a uniform and actually having to go out and FIGHT for freedom (something they not only take for granted, but believe no one would DARE try to take, not even a radical muslim, after a night at their pad doing bongs and sharing a case of the munchies)is abhorrent to them because “war is ikky and there’s loud noises and stuff”.

    • proreason says:

      “they simply tell them with a patronizing tone, “We support the troops”.

      if it escapes liberal lips…..you know it’s a lie

  5. jdaves says:

    “Spending on military hardware does produce some jobs, but it is one of the most inefficient ways to deploy public funds to stimulate the economy”

    I disagree.

    I work for a company that makes ID labels and electrical parts covers for several defense contractors. Very simple pieces, but we make a lot of them every week.

    So, if Defense Contractor A has a contract to make something….a plane, a satellite, that company gets money from the government for what they make, and pays their employees.. And they have subcontractors, who make components like instrument panels. And that subcontractor gets paid, and pays their employees.

    And that subcontractor comes to my company for these insignificant parts we make, plates for the instrument panel, or even just a label to say who made the panel. And we get paid, and pay our employees.

    So there are employees from 3 companies that get paid for 1 thing the US government has purchased. And I would bet there are many other sub-contractors involved in the components of whatever that equipment is.

    In the real world of non-FDR economics, people realize that WWII is the primary reason we recovered from the Great Depression. Not social programs that put us in a 75 year cycle of deficits and debt.

  6. MinnesotaRush says:

    Will this mistake, Fwank, EVER just trot off to Oz to get some brains??? Yellow brick road .. red brick road .. pink brick road. Who cares .. as long as it leads outta town!!!

    Proreason posted some wonderful comments earlier today that started off with .. “We are the descendents of giants who set a continent free”. Maybe someone could help find the thread topic title (I can’t just now) and post it so that we could all (again) enjoy his message. It indeed was a very special one and .. a moving one.

    Mr Fwank (the “I Believe in Weenie” guy) truly brings vision to, and clearly illustrates the “government of charlatans and cheats” that PR talked about. Fwank is but one; but indeed, is a glaring example of those in our government “who care for nothing but their own power and wealth”.

    These cretins see no problem with sending millions of dollars, if not billions, abroad for sex education, condoms, and abortions .. for sod in the Washington Mall .. for new cars, vans, and trucks for themselves and their buddies .. and MASSIVE amounts of dough for political paybacks and loyalty .. but God forbid .. God forbid .. they allocate the necessary dollars that are needed to to keep that quality wall of safety in place between us and the people who maintain it from those people and organizations that want to do us harm.

    What a disgusting and appalling posture .. behavior .. from someone who’s sworn to protect and defend our country as well.

    Fwank and his ilk .. need to understand that not only is their combined behavior and vision utterly absurd; but they violate and ignore their true duty! Provide for the protection and defense of this country! First and foremost!

    This past November election and the aftermath may well be a blessing in disguise. These miscreants who are now in “power” and feel as though they have some “mandate” are showing their ignorances and lack of prudent allegiances and duty.

    One of the many things that they are overlooking is that only about 58% of eligible voters VOTED in the November national election. Of those voters, o-blah-blah (& company) got a little more than half. The more detail math suggests that he only got (approx) 33% of the entire eligible voting block. Hardly .. a mandate! The media and his camp gloss over these stats .. omit them; but who’s kidding who?!?! There’s no mandate in place. That’s MORE smoke and mirrors!

    But the blessing part is .. with what these folks are showing and doing .. they may very well have woken that American sleeping giant! They got to where they’ve gotten to .. ‘cuz we kinda let ’em. We gave in .. patiently suffered their crap. Kinda like the frog in the boiling water thing.

    Well .. there’s no mistaken .. the waters boiling; and .. I think it’s great that more and more people are coming awake .. no more hitting the snooze alarm. The heartbeat of America .. of Americans .. seems to becoming more audible by the day.

    I know that I pray that that heartbeat continues to become louder and louder .. that it remains strong .. and that it reaches newer and higher levels than ever before. I’ll pray and pledge that I’m able to do my part; and I’ll pray for you all, my fellow Americans. Our work is cut out for us .. it ain’t gonna be easy; but with God’s grace and our hard work .. we know it’s worth it!!!

    To again quote a courageous American .. “Let’s roll!”

    • MinnesotaRush says:

      Got the title where proreason’s whole message appeared .. it’s in:
      on S&L of course .. 1000s Line Up For Subsidized Housing

      Check it out ..

  7. Howard Roark says:

    Barney’s brain may be the victim of many a different affliction, methinks: syphillis, dementia, paranoia, etc.

    Sure, he can’t understand how anyone could start a budgetary-cutting conversation without first talking about cutting the wicked Armed Forces, but then again, he can’t see why you should have to pay a parking ticket when you double-park at his apartment for a quick trist with his gay prostitute “roommate”, either.

    It all makes sense in a Nero/Caligula kind of way…

    • Confucius says:

      Personally, I think he’s suffering from advanced syphilis. It would explain his lunacy and speech impediment.

    • proreason says:

      “Personally, I think he’s suffering from advanced syphilis. It would explain his lunacy and speech impediment.”


      “The tertiary stage (of syphilis) occurs in about a third of those who are not treated. Common symptoms are painful permanent ulcers on the skin, lesions on ligaments, joints and on bones. Tertiary syphilis can attack the nervous system, the heart and blood vessels that results in blindness, paralysis, and insanity. ”

      ……………it attacks the nervous system

    • jobeth says:

      Confucius, NOTHING would explain that speech impediment! LOL

      I read this whole article with that speech impediment ringing in my head! YUK!!!

  8. nascarnation says:

    This dog definitely won’t hunt.
    Defense jobs are almost always well paying and contribute bigtime to the economy – as opposed to the fabled “green” jobs which are largely a joke.
    Given our current state of affairs, this is pure grandstanding.

  9. grits says:

    Speaking as a military spouse, this makes me sick. So does the foolish chatter about re-instituting the draft. During the Clinton years my hubby wasn’t allowed to maintain his weapons qualification, since he was assigned to a non-deploying unit and funds for ammunition were so limited. Those years will pale in comparison to what is coming.

  10. Colonel1961 says:

    Why do we need a military, at all? Who would want to hurt us? I’d suggest a 90% reduction, leaving just a few thousand soldiers with paint-ball guns, in case th UN needs us for some peacekeeping mission.

    And let’s get rid of all that olive-drab! Ugh! It’s just so boooring… Liven it up, girls!

  11. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    You can see where this is all leading. The dem’s will get their 25% budget cut for defense, our military will degrade, and then out of the blue our nation is attacked again. And the dem’s will have the audacity to scream at the military: ‘Why weren’t you prepared?’

    • jobeth says:

      And remember too, at the end of Clinton’s administration, the military was cannibalizing their own equipment because the defence budget had been so slashed back then.

  12. navymom says:

    I say, let them cut the defense budget. Then maybe the next terrorist attempt will be successful and will make it to the the capitol building while ALL of the idiots are in there! Maybe then we can get some of people in there who have some commone sense!!! We all remember what that is right???
    Let me see, destroy the economy, enslave the population through poverty, take away the citizen’s guns, let the terrorists out, then gut the military. Does this sound like a set up to anyone else??? I think I am going to invest in the toothpick industry. We are going to need a lot of them to prop people’s eyes open.

    • jobeth says:

      Maybe we can send the bad guys a map and the hours when a big pork bill is to be voted in. (Just want to make sure they are all there) lol

  13. U NO HOO says:

    If WWII ended the depression, why couldn’t we buy gasoline or tires for our cars with reckless abandon?

    Hey, let’s end our depression by making pennies and maybe nickels from zinc.

    The END of WWII ended the depression. Maybe the Marshall Plan ended the depression.

    • proreason says:

      inho, the depression ended for 2 reasons:

      1. during WWII, a massive, efficient industrial capability was developed that was relatively easy to convert to civilian usage. Machines increase productivity which improves people’s lives

      2. our success in WWI infused the country with pride and confidence in American capabilities. It reversed the defeatism of FDR and the liberals. Americans KNEW what they could accomplish, and they did it.

      Hey you!! The Moron!!!! Take heed of point 2.

  14. proreason says:

    If military spending was plotted agains economic success, there would be a very stong correlation. That’s because the military has a BENEFIT to society. A stong militray makes it possible for free people to engage in commerce without the treat of war.

    What does NOT BENEFIT society or the economy is government spending forprojects that private enterprise does not undertake (with some exceptions noted below). Windmills are a huge net loss to the economy. Private enterprise doesn’t build them because they are NOT cost justifiable. When government subsidizes them, it steals capital from businesses that would build what people WANT.

    But there are some exceptions to government spending. Roads are an example. The problem with roads is that it is too difficult for private enterprise to recoup its costs. So we have to fund highly inefficient government to get them built (ever count the % of road workers standing idle?). Note however, that private toll roads, which do provide an effective cost recovery method, are always built faster and better than government roads.

    Another example was the space program. It was an example of a project that is too big and risky to be undertaken by private enterprise. So government did it. For that reason, it probably cost 2 to 3 times what it would have cost if private enterprise could have taken the risk.

  15. pagar says:

    Cut the Congressional budget 25% and make America safer at the same time.

  16. RightWinger says:

    I’m just surprised it is only 25%. I keep waiting for somebody from the left to proclaim that we need to unilaterally disarm in the interest of world peace. Or at the very least make our armed forces equal in strength to a country say like, Sweden.

    Slowly but surely I see myself taking on a survivalist mentality. I’ve got my colloidal silver maker to prepare for the downfall of our health care system, I’ve already built my solar heat collectors to help collect heat for when they cut off the natural gas / oil for global warming issues. When spring comes, I’m going to start learning how to grow potatoes in garbage bags for when the economy has been destroyed. Well that and stashing away gold and silver coins for when dollar bills are used to replace toilet paper because it will be cheaper that way.

    • proreason says:

      A SanFrancisco councilman HAS said we should totally disarm.

      I say…..let’s disarm SanFancisco, Boston, and New York….just as an experiments for 10 or 20 years.

      Let’s see what happens.

  17. Steve says:

    Mr. Limbaugh just touched upon this article.

  18. joeblough says:

    I want Barney Frank cut by 25%.

  19. canary says:

    Franko could volunteer to serve for free. Now that B.H.Obama gets his wish to .
    go after Obama B.L. they should settle the middleastern dispute with a dule. I think B.H. B.H.Obama could earn alot of respect if he’d go over there for 6 weeks. Just 6 weeks out of 4 years. We’ve got to bring Obama B.L. out of hiding no matter what it takes, but might as well do it the least expensive way we can. It’s B.H.Obama, that Obama.B.L. really wants to meet with. It appears B.H. Obama is letting all the terrorist know, they don’t have to worry about going to prison.

    How about Muslim Martyr Day. Blow them up? Since the terrorist muslims like blowing themselves up so much, why don’t we set a day, that we will martyr a whole bunch of them. Tell them to Obama B.L. wants them there for the greatest sacrifice they can do for their country. And then we can just bomb the heck out of them. That would save lot’s of money. I mean these terrorists are so brainwashed, that if we use the same stragedy on them, that Obama B.L. does, it might work. We could call them cowards and double dare them. We could promise them 1000 virgins. Tell them they will have the powers of Santa Clause, the Easter bunny, and Tooth Fairy, and they will be able to deliver gold and silver to their families.

  20. pinandpuller says:

    What that picture is lacking: An armband and funny looking mustache.

  21. canary says:

    Clinton stuck to air raids over Kosovo to save, and not one complaint from Rosie or Sean Penn

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