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article imageOp-Ed: US budget deal helps save defense budget from sequester cuts

By Ken Hanly     Dec 14, 2013 in Politics
Washington - When it comes to rescuing the military-industrial complex from the severe cuts imposed by the sequester, Republicans and Democrats can demonstrate bipartisan action.
Without the recent budget deal worked out under the guidance of Republican Paul Ryan and Democrat Patty Murray there would have been what have been described as "dire" cuts to the defense budget as automatic sequestration cuts continued next year. There were warnings from both members of Congress and the Pentagon that without action defense budget cuts would weaken the US and make it vulnerable to attack.
Cathy Reisenwitz at the The Blaze summarizes the deal as follows: The deal, brokered with Senate budget chair Patty Murray, increases federal spending by $45 billion, doesn’t touch Medicare or Social Security and forces Americans to pay more to be felt-up and naked-scanned by the TSA. And all to prop up the already-bloated budget of the Department of Defense, which gets half of that additional spending. The Republicans agreed to leave entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security untouched, a move that will no doubt anger many conservatives but in return the Democrats agree to help save the already bloated defense budget.
The defense budget is already at $629 billion 39 per cent of global military spending. Even with sequestration cuts the defense budget would be $475 billion still $309 billion more than the next biggest defense spender China. The Blaze claims that it was entitlement programs that such as Medicare and Social Security that needed to be addressed and as a result claim that the Ryan budget was worse than doing nothing. However, criticism of the budget deal and its rescue of defense spending from sequestration cuts also comes from Mother Jones on the left.
Dave Gilson points out that even with the sequester cuts defense spending would remain well over pre-9/11 levels for the next decade. Given a larger budget was required for the Iraq and Afghan wars, it could surely afford considerable cuts now. As Winslow Wheeler of the Project on Government Oversight put it: "These 'terrible cuts' would return us to historically high levels of spending". Lawrence Korb of the Center for American Congress maintains that the Pentagon could cuts its budget by $100 billion a year without harming its readiness while the sequestration cuts for 2013 only amounted to $37 billion.
Mother Jones has a number of interesting charts and figures about US defense spending. Here are a few fabulous facts: Serving 9.6 million people, the Pentagon and Veterans Administration together constitute the nation's largest health-care provider.
70 percent of the value of the federal government's $1.8 trillion in property, land, and equipment belongs to the Pentagon.
Los Angeles could fit into the land managed by the Pentagon 93 times. The Army uses more than twice as much building space as all the offices in New York City.
The Pentagon holds more than 80 percent of the federal government's inventories, including $6.8 billion of excess, obsolete, or unserviceable stuff.
The Pentagon operates more than more than 170 golf courses worldwide.
While the military brass support saving the defense budgets from the sequester cuts, they often disagree with lobbyists for the military-industrial complex who continue to press for programs even the military regards as not necessary. Congress typically ignores this budgetary advice from the generals because defense corporations give extraordinary amounts of money to political campaigns and strategically set up factories in politically tactical districts in order to scare elected officials away from cutting the defense budget for fear of an uptick in unemployment. As that Great Helmsman and Supreme Leader Barack Obama points out, it is all about jobs, jobs, jobs.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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