Tea Party activists are calling on the “super committee” tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in budget cuts to make sure that the Pentagon’s budget remains on the table. “Nothing should be sacred, and everything needs to be evaluated and cut as much as it can be,” said Jenny Beth Martin, co-founder of Tea Party Patriots.
Not only has war hawk John Bolton been trying to make his case that that the super committee should leave military spending untouched, he says Congress should increase the Pentagon’s budget — even at the expense of Medicare, Social Security, and veterans’ health and retirement benefits. So today in the Washington Times, Bolton hit back at the Tea Party, urging them to “make clear” that the debt deal “undermines defense.” He tries to convince the Tea Party that the real problem is entitlements:
It makes no sense to put our military on the chopping block when any objective analysis shows the real culprit is entitlement spending. The Heritage Foundation predicts that between 2010 and 2015, total defense spending will fall from 4.9 percent to 3.6 percent of gross domestic product. Meanwhile, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid surpassed defense spending in 1976 and have grown unchecked since. These three programs alone risk completely crowding out the government’s primary constitutional obligation: defending our country.
Bolton’s reference to defense spending as a percentage of GDP is completely irrelevant in this debate. And maybe Bolton doesn’t consider Bloomberg News “objective analysis” because just last month, they ran a story reporting that, in addition to the recession, the “real culprit” of American debt is the Bush tax cuts, along with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and President Bush’s Medicare prescription drug plan:
Together, a Bloomberg News analysis shows, these initiatives added $3.4 trillion to the nation’s accumulated debt and to its current annual budget deficit of $1.5 trillion. [...]
“There’s plenty of blame to go around,” for the debt, said Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, an Arlington, Virginia-based group that advocates for balanced budgets. “If there had been no Barack Obama, we would still be bumping up against the debt limit.’”
But those factors are just the main debt drivers. Bolton conveniently omits the fact that military spending has nearly doubled in the last 10 years, is higher than at any point since World War II, and the cuts he claims will result in a “hollowed-out military” will actually just bring DOD back to 2007 spending levels. U.S. military spending accounts for 43 percent of the world’s total, and the U.S. spends six times more than China, Iran, and North Korea combined. Thus, the U.S. can afford cuts to military spending in order to rein in the debt and deficit.