I don't use the word "defense" much when talking about the federal budget because it always prejudices the conversation. U.S. military spending isn't always defensive; it often is appropriately offensive and changing the name in 1949 from the Department of War to the Department of Defense should go down as one of the top 10 greatest public relations achievements of all time.
So why did I violate my own rule and use the word "defense" in the headline to this post? To make a point: In spite of all the spin and all the warm feelings Americans supposedly have about the military, Congress was more than willing to throw defense spending under the budget bus in the sequester. When it was a question of tax increases and Medicare reductions vs the Pentagon, not only did the Pentagon lose, but it wasn't even on the field or the same game.
In a new piece published yesterday in Foreign Policy, CG&G alum Gordon Adams follows my post on the budget nonsense former Defense Secretary Robert Gates and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen talked about last week at the Center for International and Strategic Studies with what can only be described as a fiscal smack down.
It's not to be missed. Take a look.
Take a look at this story by Jeremy Herb from The Hill yesterday and be prepared to stifle a huge scream.
As Herb wrote, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Joint Chiefs Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen complained at a program hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies about "Washington's inability to grapple with the budget and debt problems facing the country."
But shortly thereafter, Gates and Mullen make it clear that something that would do what they said they wanted by reducing the deficit and resulting in less federal debt -- the sequester -- is unacceptable because the sequestration Pentagon cuts "would be devastating (to the Pentagon) and lead to a hollow force."
As I said back in June, in spite of all of the discussion about the need to cut federal spending, the gospel truth is that it's VERY popular and cutting anything -- including the always denigrated foreign aid and the constantly belittled waste, fraud and abuse -- will be much, much harder than anyone ever admits.
So here's the first installment in what I suspect will be a continuing series about just how difficult that's going to be.
This post from the libertarian Cato@Liberty blog by Christopher Preble about the sizeable increase in the deficit Mitt Romney's military spending plans will cause caught my eye yesterday thanks to the ever-watchful CG&G alum Bruce Bartlett.
In case you're not familiar with it, Romney has pledged to spend at least four percent of GDP on the Pentagon’s base budget. And, also just in case you're not familiar with it, this would be a huge increase in federal spending and, without offsetting tax increases or spending cuts (which given the amount of additional spending and the need to reduce the deficit would be impossible to do), a substantial rise in the deficit.
Here's the money quote from Cato