On Tuesday, 24 February 2009, two days before Obama presented a proposed budget to Congress, Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and other House Democrats called on the Obama administration to reduce military spending, setting up a potential clash between House liberals and the White House. At a White House summit on fiscal responsibility the day before, Obama had cast doubt on the future of an $11.2 billion project to upgrade the fleet of presidential helicopters. But Obama has shown no indication that he plans to reduce, or even freeze, overall defense spending, which will be around $650 billion this fiscal year.
Frank says that’s a mistake. “To accomplish his goals of expanding health care and other important quality of life services without ballooning the deficit,” Frank noted, Obama has no choice but to decrease military spending. He said that spending excessive amounts of money on the defense budget “precludes” the Obama administration from addressing other priorities: “If we do not get military spending under control, we will not be able to respond to important domestic needs.”
Acknowledging that Obama does plan to save hundreds of billions of dollars by withdrawing from Iraq, Frank said the President must go further and take big whacks at big-ticket military projects. He pointed to programs like the Air Force’s F-22 fighter, the Osprey troop transport, and missile defense as expensive, unnecessary Cold War-era boondoggles. He singled out missile defense in Eastern Europe as a particularly wasteful use of American taxpayers’ money. “I will confess that I am not a regular reader of Iranian-issued fatwahs,” Frank quipped. “And probably one of the ones I missed was the one where they threatened devastation against Prague. We plan to spend several billion dollars to protect the Czech Republic against Iran. That’s either a great waste of money or a very belated way to make up for Munich…”
But don’t look to Congress to reduce military spending on its own, Frank said: “Left entirely on our own, the Congress will not do the cuts in the military budget that ought to be there.” Military spending cuts will only come, he said, if there’s grassroots pressure for them…
Overdue. We can cut over 20% of the military budget just by bringing our troops home from the 175 countries where they are stationed. At a minimum, the cost of maintaining someone in the military is doubled when they are stationed outside the continental US.
You needn’t worry about what we can do with all these folks if and when they are returned home. First off, they can be put to work doing something more useful than painting and maintenance work on property leased from foreign nationals. They can work on infrastructure more useful to our whole nation’s economy than dirt roads in Afghanistan.
Go to www.congress.org and email your Congress-critter and President Obama. Tell ’em to Bring the Troops Home Now!