Letters to the editor: Debt cutters should target Pentagon | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram

As a veteran of both the armed services and the defense industry, I think I have a useful perspective on the military budget. And my experience tells me that in our search for ways to reduce our federal deficits, we shouldn’t start with hospital and nursing-home care provided by Medicare and Medicaid, but rather with wasteful spending at the Pentagon.

The Defense Department budget “now has economic and political purposes that often supersede the goal of keeping us safe at reasonable cost,” a reader says.

In my combat tour with the United States Army in Vietnam in 1966-’67, I experienced the waste of resources and weapons that didn’t work. Later, in my contracting career, I observed needless cost overruns, padded grants and foolish projects.

The problem is that our military budget has taken on a life of its own — it’s no longer there simply to fund our legitimate defense needs. It now has economic and political purposes that often supersede the goal of keeping us safe at reasonable cost.

That’s why closing redundant military bases is so traumatic and Congress continues to vote funds for weapons the top military brass doesn’t want or need.

This is evidence of the military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell address more than 50 years ago. It can now be consider the military-industrial congressional complex.

While continuing to maintain a strong defense against legitimate threats, it’s time we dismantled this dangerous complex in the interest of a sounder federal balance sheet, a more stable economy and a healthier society.

We spend more on defense than the next 17 countries combined and account for 40 percent of all the military spending in the world. Politicians and experts from across the political spectrum have called for judicious cuts in our bloated defense budget.

Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins can be leaders in making defense cuts a central component of the final “fiscal cliff” deficit-reduction deal. I urge them to exercise that leadership.

Alex Mendelsohn, Kennebunk

via Letters to the editor: Debt cutters should target Pentagon | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram.