By Rebekah Johansen
For many, Pentagon spending is the one fortress that cannot be broached with any real spending reform. Regardless of how dire the financial situation is, advocating cutting such spending is politically risky at best, and few in either party have been willing to address this issue seriously. After all, the line goes, can we really afford to? But despite misleading political rhetoric, the answer is a resounding Yes, as more and more research continues to show.
In a report released Tuesday, the R Street Institute and National Taxpayers Union found $1.8 Trillion in Pentagon savings, in a written report detailing 100 specific recommendations toward this goal.
The authors say they “hope to demonstrate that the ‘universe’ of programs and processes in need of reform at the Pentagon is more than large enough to allow for compliance with so-called sequestration while maintaining the strongest and most capable military the world has ever known.”
The report, entitled Defending America, Defending Taxpayers differentiates between “necessary” and “wasteful” spending and divides recommendations into three categories: weapons systems, personnel and compensation, and programs and processes. Respectively, these recommended cuts would save the federal government $385.8 billion, $618.6 billion, and $878.5 billion, respectively.
Download the entire PDF report here.
The Coalition believes and has always advocated for the fact that spending beyond our means is unwise. The unfortunate response to such reports can often be to derail into tedious and endless discussions of just what is “necessary” or “wasteful”; valuable questions, to be sure, but based on an unfortunate assumption that spending money we do not have is somehow not unwise itself.
However, this report and others like it are extremely valuable, because they point out a fact often overlooked in spending debates: the actual way money is being spent in the Pentagon, and the abject foolishness of refusing to touch it.
Congressional Budget Office projections are that by 2023, our national debt will be $26 trillion, and current debt levels are already unsustainable, with interest payments on the debt themselves at approximately 16,470,232 times the average US family income. Pentagon spending, a hefty chunk of overall spending, should not be immune from spending reform; in fact, such reform has actually been shown to help the economy in the long run. And beyond talking points, it is glaringly obvious that continuing to spend money we do not have is the furthest thing from “keeping America safe.”
Particularly in today’s fiscal environment, reports such as these go a long way toward making the case for including Pentagon spending in reform efforts. Our country is entangled in unsustainable spending and faced with a looming national debt. Now more than ever, we simply cannot afford to hold on to sacred cows.