The House Ducks on Defense

Congress seems frightened of the political fallout that would come from making much-needed cuts in the defense budget.

Comments: 194

  1. The very next time that the majority in Congress, who have never worn a uniform, have never been IN a war, vote to send Americans to slaughter they should have to provide, one per Congressperson who votes for war, a son, daughter, grandson or granddaughter for use as cannon fodder.
    They should also have to pledge their earned and unearned Federal benefits, Social Security, Medicare, Congressional pensions to pay for the coming debacle.

  2. Nice speech. Let's see if it happens. I won't hold my breath

  3. Good suggestion; but as in the past, their children will be in reserve units playing soldier or flying high above the front lines while your children will be on the ground. Some things never change.

  4. The only logically workable legislative approach would be to break the military budget reductions down into bite-size bits, so that the political and financial influences could be played out and clearly seen.

    At the moment, it is one gigantic gordian knot -- a mess of conflicting and overlapping pressures where one cannot see the thread which is to be pulled to solve the problem.

    Likely the military industrial complex likes it just that way ...

  5. The Pentagon seems to be the only federal agency that is both incapable of and seemingly not required to pass an audit. They simply don't know where the money goes and nobody in Congress cares.

  6. While the sequester was certainly a very blunt instrument, it is perhaps the only way to significantly whittle down our totally disproportionate defense budget. When one considers that we spend virtually as much on defense as the rest of the world combined, the absurdity of the situation becomes very evident.

    But since our 24/7-hands-out members of Congress have been pretty much completely bought by the clever military/industrial complex & are incapable of voting against any meaningful cutback in the multiple out of control capital projects or any reduction of the massive numbers of troops we maintain around the world, maybe the sequester is the only.

    So, somewhat reluctantly I must say; “Let's bring the sequester”

  7. This is the same old same old.

    My son is a US Marine Lt. I'm a school music teacher. We do OK in terms of salary, and we're putting our hearts and minds into our jobs. But the big bucks goes to the technology and infrastructure of both our organizations -- school buildings, Smart Boards, computers, fighter jets, carriers, high-tech tanks, etc -- AND to the upper level personnel (Superintendents, Asst Superintendents, Asst asst superintendents, Generals, Major Generals, Minor Generals).

    But most of the money goes into the pockets of high-paid CEOs and the companies who overcharge for everything because the government will pay for stuff but not for people.

    I want all the teachers and all the soldiers to go on strike. Every one of us. And then let the Superintendents and execs at Pearson and Microsoft teach the school kids. And let the Generals and Major Generals and CEOs of Northrup Grumman and McDonnell-Douglas fight the next war.

    I don't want a million dollars for what I do. Put I'd like to get paid more for the incredibly important work that my son and I are doing for this country.

  8. Your suggestion is right on target. A former president of my university once referred, in his annual report no less, to "those who are essential to the day-to-day functioning of the university" (an exact quotation) and named the president, the provost, and the vice presidents. Not even the deans made the list. (It was his last annual report, but not for that reason.)

  9. You are absolutely correct - will voters ever comprehend this????

  10. Unless things have changed dramatically on the battle field, retiring the A-10 "Warthog" would appear to be a curious move to begin with. I'm willing to stand corrected, but I understand it is proven, highly effective (and cost effective), and it's already paid for. It may not be "sexy," but for close air support, it supposedly gets the job done.

  11. You are essentially correct, the A-10 is all of those things, but like us grunts it so ably protected in 'Nam, it's expendable. It has been modernized a number of times and there's nothing else like it, but it's old school, for those conflicts actually fought by people, not a good fit for the new vision of warfare which is all about computers, drones and remote controls. Eventually wars will be fought by wi-fi, and we'll compete with adversaries to see who can deploy the most effective worms, viruses and trojans. We'll invade with hordes of digital insects and cyber-molecules, but of course we won't develop appropriate vaccines and repellents first. The Geneva conventions will be re-written, in binary code of course, and will be larger than all the code in windows-8, but we'll ignore them then as we do now.
    The A-10, and to a lesser degree the C-130 are vital parts of my local economy, So is Raytheon and their missile business. Their plant sits adjacent to our airport and a short hop from Davis Montham A.F.B., home to a large wing of A-10's. Our Air National Guard here trains all the foreign pilots on F-16s. We also have one of the nation's premier VA hospitals, where I'm a patient and volunteer. It's no surprise that we have a huge regional population of retired military. Many of them are homeless, some significant number wait months or longer for benefits or care. We're afraid there's a "death panel" list, as was recently exposed in Phoenix. Send in the drones.

  12. The A-10 was designed to kill Soviet tanks in a giant land war in Europe. So yes, "things have changed dramatically" since the Berlin Wall fell.

  13. What congress considers an ideal bill, double the current defense budget by eliminating the income tax.

    We have to seriously reconsider democracy, if this is the kind of work that you get from elected representatives, or at least question our version of democracy.

  14. The defense budget has always been a way for congressmen to buy favors. Nothing new here. Hopefully Obama and Hegel will let the voters know who is busting the budget this fall.

  15. Hagel. I wonder what Hegel would say?

  16. "Hopefully Obama and Hegel will let the voters know who is busting the budget this fall."

    Agreed, as long as the rest of the budget goes under the knife as well.

  17. President Eisenhower was a prophet when he warned about the "military-industrial complex." Preparing to fight three conflicts at the same time, including and invasion from Mars, was an easy sell to a warlike people who could at least take the Cold War seriously. Now, with no serious enemies in sight (for instance, no other nation has one super-carrier to rival the eleven we possess), the excuse for bloated military budgets gets slimmer and slimmer. The Iraqis could counter an attack by a cajillion dollar stealth bomber launched from Omaha with a few roadside bombs made out of discarded artillery shells. We cling to our weapons because we are afraid to try diplomacy, and we are unable to accept the role we have played in creating a dangerous world.

  18. "The committee abdicated responsibility for one of the Pentagon’s biggest challenges, pay and benefits. If left unaddressed, they could eventually consume most of the budget and make weapons modernization impossible...."

    So, pay and benefits are the biggest challenge...yes, they are a challenge because the Congress and Presidents keep sending our men and women 'into harms way' for the most dubious of objectives, and without regard to the costs that this will entail in the future...see, this is NOT rocket science, it is predictable and foreseeable. For the Congress and The Department of Defense to contemplate benefit cuts before they address the runaway costs of weapons development and acquisition, and base expansions all over the world, would be a 'stab in the back' for all of those who served and sacrificed.

  19. Members of the House are more concerned about their jobs than they are about our country.

  20. "But the committee’s lack of vision will mean less money for the newer weapons required to confront future threats..."

    Your comment above is the heart of the argument. Yesterday's weapons and tactics don't keep our adversaries and competitors from our shores. It's today's and tomorrow's weapons, and the ones they don't know about that keep us free.

    Any congressional committee that has the power to override the Defense Secretary should be required to take mandatory briefings to keep them up to date on what is and what is not needed and why. What do Congressmen and women know about defending our nation?

    Retired in Israel

  21. What do you mean when you say "our" nation? The US or Israel where US taxes provide the bulk of it's military budget?

  22. Meanwhile, the non-military, civilians face a shrinking middle class. Its really ironic, given that this is actually a peacetime nation that proclaims that we are in an eternal war (on terrorism, this time)

  23. 9/11 was a gift to the military/industrial/Congressional complex. It gave them an excuse to proclaim endless war. First on "terrorists" who are anyone they don't like and second on Americans who expect a level of fairness and responsiveness from their elected officials.

  24. "Congress still has time to responsibly rebalance America’s military forces, but doing so will require reversing the inclination to always say yes to whatever the lobbyists and donors want."

    Is there any reason for optimism? This is the US Congress of 2014 after all. They do nothing but get paid. "responsibly" isn't in their vocabulary, nor their abilities.

  25. Did you really think welfare payments to the military industrial complex could be cut. They are the government ! Far easier to cut food stamp, social security, Medicare and education. You know those programs who only have average people as a constituacy .

  26. The military is unique in that it supports a huge private industrial complex. Even General Ike could see that, back in 1961.

  27. Most of this money doesn't go to government employees. It goes to civilian contracts that make these F-35s and tanks, etc. It goes to Halliburton and other war profiteers.
    One jet can have parts made in 46 different states. Earmarks aplenty.

    I'm actually for pulling out every military installation in a solid red Republican state. They all seem to hate the US government with a passion. Shutting down Ft. Benning in Georgia or Ft. Hood in Texas would create economic chaos! Both are training facilities. Senator Dean Heller of Nevada calls Cliven Bundy a patriot? Let's remove Nellis and Fallon AFBs. Especially since Fallon is the new "Top Gun" school.

    Governor Deal and Governor Perry refuse Medicaid dollars but sure love that money coming into their states. Close every base in every state that refuses Medicaid dollars or threatens secession. That should help the budget!

    If we are so gung-ho on National Defense let's do what Israel and Sweden among others do. Two years of mandatory service for both men and women. There's your standing army. That makes them more qualified than my dad who went to the Philippines in WWII or me in Vietnam.

  28. American "Defense" Policy since the end of World War II, the Cold War containment of communism notwithstanding, has been a jobs and corporate welfare program based on the theory that social and technological progress emanate from warfare and advanced weapons development. Nothing in the Pentagon budget will change until our beliefs and national priorities change. Your editorial, while certainly well-meaning, is feckless and recondite.

  29. Right description, wrong theory. The biggest part of the theory has always been the profits to be made and the power to be gained.

  30. The Department of Defense has long budgeted around the assumption of being able to fight two land wars on the European-Asian continent at the same time. The assumption should be changed to fighting zero land wars on the Euro-Asian landmass and re-structure the Army and Marine Corp to this level.

    Fundamentally, the US must reconfigure around the concept that it is a worldwide air and sea power, but no longer a country that will project land forces force deep into the Asian landmass.

  31. A Future DEFENSE doctrine..............

    Maintain bases inside the nation to DEFEND the nation.

    Train active military to lead an already armed population as citizen militias.

    Withdraw our forces from foreign nations whose presence foments anger, resentment, and attacks.

    Limit the naval forces to patrolling the North American continent and Hawaii.

    Construct extremely high power Carbon Dioxide Laser defense positions with dedicated power plants to destroy any attacking missiles and aircraft.

    Allow the C.I.A. to realize it's mission of gathering worldwide intelligence to give us early warning.

    Reinforce airborne forces. They are fast and effective.

    Reduce the ranks of troops and increase their pay to track inflation at least. Remember; they will lead citizen militias.

    Reinforce the State Department with more diplomats than spies to negotiate and avoid wars before they start.

    If there is always peace after a war ends, why fight the war in the first place. Learn to negotiate peace.

    Stop being the worlds policeman. For decades, our Presidents have always taken a tough stand on our opposition and postured for war instead of doing the hard work of intelligence, understanding, and negotiation.

    North America is a Castle surrounded by an expansive Moat and friendly nations. We are fools for not simply defending the Castle, but striking out to invite reprisals. This Castle is a Gift that should be a humble peaceful home, not a base for worldwide domination and aggression.

  32. "Reinforce airborne forces. They are fast and effective."

    True, but against any mechanized force they are merely a speed bump...

    "Withdraw our forces from foreign nations whose presence foments anger, resentment, and attacks."

    Why not withdraw them from all countries?

    "Stop being the worlds policeman."


  33. Our military does not defend our "castle". It keeps the seaways open and safe for corporations. Same for the ground routes. The American interest we "defend" are purely economic ones that do the average American little good.

  34. I agree we need to scale back policing the world. However considering human nature what exactly will stop your proposed citizen militias from going to war with each other right inside our borders?

  35. The 2013 U.S. budget:

    Dept. of HHS (Medicare & Medicade)- - 24.7% (940.9 Billion)
    Social Security Administration - - - - - - 23.2% (882.7 Billion)
    Department of Defense - - - - - - - - - - - 17.7% (673 Billion)
    ==>Interest on the Debt <== - - - - - - - - 6.5% (246 Billion)
    Dept. of Agriculture - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -4.1% (127.7 Billion)

    So, yes, we have some issues that we need to work on, but it's not just a problem with Defense spending. We owe 17 trillion dollars. That's enough to make 17 million of your best friends millionaires!

    ALL spending needs to be reduced, or soon the interest on the 17 trillion dollar national debt will be the largest single item in the budget.

    Think about that.

  36. Your figures obscure the fact that almost all the SSA and most of the HHS "spending" you mention is returning money paid in by citizens through Social Security and Medicare. That's not an honest presentation. "Defense" is where the big waste is. The F-35, the multiple carrier fleets, the airplane-shooting guided missile destroyers, the 100s of foreign bases, are too much for any reasonable need other than empire. Meanwhile, the U.S. has fallen into the "Superiority" trap (see Wikipedia; better, read the story): every new device is so complex that it doesn't work (that's the trap; the reality of course only approximates it).

  37. Social Security represents a lawful debt of the US government. Or are you not missing the 1/7 of your paycheck it takes? That is not spending, it is discharging an incurred liability.

  38. At least defense spending can be controlled. I doubt it will even keep up with inflation going forward. On the other hand, HHS spending is totally out of control. Too bad the editorial board is not concerned about HHS spending as it is with defense spending.

  39. Dumping the unneeded F-35 joint strike fighter would go a long way to solving budget problems. This $1.5 trillion boondoggle will survive, however, as there Reps.and Dems. have found a way to cooperate--the "save the F-35" coalition, which has been amply funded by Lockheed Martin. Every year there are cost overruns and instead of holding LMT to its bid for the contract, the funding is increased. Since the project started, LTM has increased its dividend from $0.40/share to $4.00 a share.

  40. The ideal of the F-35 - a strike fighter that could be used by each service without major modifications - has given way to a grinding depressing and extremely costly reality. As could have been predicted, each service chief meddled in the process and "needed" variations which has blown the budget beyond calculation. And the damn thing may not even work. Kill it, and mothball 1 or 2 extra aircraft carriers, and redirect the money to our national infrastructure as well as the Pentagon's efforts towards energy conservation, biofuels and small, portable energy generators - which may prompt innovations that will fuel an entire civilian industry benefiting us all.

  41. Billions for defense and the CIA; where were these billions in action on the morning of 9/11? A total waste of our tax dollars. Where are the Republicans asking questions on this ultimate failure? Nowhere, as usual.

  42. As a Republican I find reaching to 9/11 a joke. At what point do you stop beating that drum? Maybe I should say that FDR knew the Japanese were going to attack but did nothing since he ran on an anti war platform and sentiment was over 80%, keeping him from entering? I can play this game all day long. How far shall we go with it?
    Obama had the intelligence, the proof that Assad was using chemical weapons did he not? Can you tell me when he conducted those strategic air strikes? There was 150,000 dead at that point. Now there was a second attack and and now there is 170,000 dead and 8,000 children. Can you tell me what Obama is doing? Nothing as usual.

    I thought al Qaeda was decimated and on the run. Is that why the regained the cities of Fallujah and Ramade in western Iraq? Is that why they are gaining a foothold in Northern Africa?

    Can you tell me what Obama is doing to find the killers in Benghazi?
    Can you tell me what Obama is doing to stop the genocide of homosexuals in the middle east?
    Can you tell me what Obama is doing about about the slaughter of Coptic Christians by radical Islamists?
    Have a nice day.

  43. Maybe we need a select committee to investigate.
    Oh wait. If the committee actually took your suggestion they might find something. Moreover, they couldn't smear Hillary Clinton.
    So what would be the point?

  44. Where is Darryl Issa when you need him?

  45. The Ukraine situation is an ideal rationale, in the MIC/Congress/Pentagon
    thought process, to add back a full Cold War capability.

    Not a rationale that could survive serious consideration by competent authorities, but could take hold in a say-anything-that-works political campaign against Obama, the Right's designated proxy for the Democratic politicians.

    Substantial budgets have been justified over the past 13 years to fight small lightly armed enemies that had no air power, no navy, no artillery, no tanks and armored personnel carriers, no significant logistic support system, no medical evacuation to trauma centers, no sophisticated communications and intelligence systems, and maybe no boots. But Russia has all these things. Add Russia to the (potential) enemies list, and someone will be drafting up a trillion dollar Defense budget.

    The Right's Benghazi show has been a good training program for moving on to Russia.

  46. The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) doesn't do any costing -- it is incapable of that -- it merely cuts some places and adds in others, in its mark-up of the President's budget submission. In other words, it is under no budget discipline at all. It is only the subcommittee on defense of the Appropriations Committee that absolutely must squeeze everything into the top line established by the two Budget Committees and to which the Administration conformed with its $496 billion budget submission. Of course, the 1.8 percent pay increase for the military would be "law" if passed by both Houses. But that would not change the budget ceilings, also law, and would have to result in cutting personnel or systems, or both. The whole process represented by the HASC is "defense as a domestic program," having nothing to do with the world or the defense of the U.S. It is a farce.

  47. Many complain about stimulus money from the government, but that is exactly what military spending is when unnecessary bases, equipment, etc are maintained. Perhaps transitioning from this huge military budget that must be decreased we could take the money saved and spend it (yes, no initial savings!) on domestic improvements. Use the money in those states and House districts affected by military budget decreases and do something positive for the area that will employ people and improve communities... repair roads & bridges, hire teachers, repair schools, improve sewer systems, provide better Internet service, etc., etc.

  48. While military spending does stimulate the economy, spending the same amount on repairing and improving infrastructure does a lot more for the economy because it also improves efficiency.

  49. Our colonial empire is bankrupting us. It is overdue to slim down our bloated defense establishment and to start spending money on fixing things like our lousy airports and our outmoded interstate highway system.

  50. The chicken hawks do get their way,
    With hand over heart how they play,
    It's guns over butter
    With each word they utter,
    Before they adjourn, sine die.

  51. "It's guns over butter"

    Do you think a "butter over guns" approach will be any better? Surely you remember what LBJ's "guns and butter" approach did to the economy.

  52. As the headline states, the hawks have become defense ducks.

  53. Not to mention the billions spent on yet another unnecessary war in SE Asia. The War on Poverty was not solely responsible for the downturn of the economy in the 70's, which by the way wasn't nearly as severe as the 2008 debacle brought on by another misguided War Hawk.

  54. Congress and the D O D have options on substantial potential savings which if they were accountable to their "stockholders", the taxpayers and voters of the US, they would implement at once.

    NATO has outlived its mandate; it accomplished its objective in 1991/92 with the collapse of the USSR and Communism. It should have been retired then. The US pays $750,000,000 annually for NATO, 28% of its budget, unequally spread between 26 European members and Canada. When the Ukraine crisis arose, the EU contingent, with the exception of France, could not raise any forces, even for security patrols. Countries have cut their military by as much as 40% and expect the US to defend them. The US must resign from NATO, forthwith.

    The National Debt now exceeds $17.5 Trillion and with the impending increase in interest rates it will cripple our economy as it grows to $25 Trillion by 2020. Reports that Government workers are paid to literally do no work and that the IRS and other departments spent $1 Billion on office equipment in 2014 is frankly amazing.

    Troops must be paid properly and Veterans must be cared for. The budding VA scandal is a national disgrace; we should be ashamed of how we treat our veterans, and cutting military pay is pathetic; cut Congressional and administration salaries and perks rather than deprive our troops.

    Congress better get real quickly; public ire is rising; accountability is demanded of all politicians or voters will vote to retire them, no exceptions.

  55. The waste in government is principally in Congress - talk about federal workers getting paid to do nothing! - and the Pentagon. Ever seen the inside of the Officer's Club at Meade? Eye-popping! Best of everything for our officers, let the enlist forces rot. Remember, we couldn't provide our soldiers in Iraq with body armor while Haliburton lost nine billion and never accounted for it.

  56. Defense is the biggest makework project in a country where opportunity shrinks every day.

  57. When the weapons they make are unneeded or overly expensive to acquire or maintain, the companies and people who make them are total or partial welfare queens. Many of them work hard for their money, but what they are doing wastes our resources and makes us weaker rather than stronger.

    We have a great deal of welfare, and it goes to those with the influence to buy it from Congress or otherwise arrange it. These are the entitled, and the jobs and profits they get are their entitlements -- entitlements that cost far more than food stamps. Because it comes with fig leaves, elaborate charades to make it appear necessary or disappear from view, those who accept it can pride themselves on being against (naked) welfare. Meanwhile their entitlements have shrunk the funds we would need to provide adequately for the medical needs of our veterans.

    The Pentagon can always find the money it needs to get Congress to approve the pet projects of the military-industrial complex. Seeing that veterans get adequate care is not one of these projects.

  58. Right! End "warfare welfare" - then redirect the savings into infrastructure and green energy and watch the innovations multiply into civilian industries...!

  59. With US facing no direct threat, now or in near future, the Afghan/ Iraq wars over, what the US needs is a trimmed smart and battle ready force augmented through modern weapons and defense technology, not an unwieldy and obsolete war machine consuming resources and lives like fodder much in excess of its actual needs.

  60. No direct threat??? Russia, China, Terrorists, I could go on.

  61. At the risk of sounding elitist, I'm not at all surprised that the house ducked responsibility in trimming the Defense budget. There are too many Congressmen who believe the earth is only 6,000 years old, that reject evolution and science in favor of faith, and that truly believe in miracles. They seemingly are incapable of rational, intellectual analysis. Sadly, I would not expect anything else from this group know nothings.

  62. A day of reckoning is coming, sooner or later. On that day, the near collapse of our economy driven by a reckless financial sector and the reckless, endless wars in south-central Asia, will place this country in the same position as the once mighty British Empire. It took England nearly 50 years to climb out of the mess created by an over-wrought empire. We are heeding down the same path with a political system in total denial. The gutless acts of our elected officials, the unwillingness of Congress to see this country as a community and take actions necessary for its future lead to tragic decisions like these, and they will continue to fail until replaced with new members with a national, communal attitude. Sadly, chances of that happening are quite small.

  63. Unlike many parts of the federal budget, you can actually see what you get from our defense budget. I'm not in favor of unilaterally cutting military spending unless it is to dollar for dollar transfer military spending to NASA manned space exploration. Either way, military R&D is one of the few remaining places where America can maintain it's technology lead without worrying about just outsourcing the whole thing to China.

  64. Sorry, but where do you think the tax dollars that fund defense spending come from? Left in the hands of taxpayers, those dollars might have financed new cars, home improvements, energy-efficient appliances, investments in education, savings for retirement, etc. In other words, expenditures where "you can actually see what you get".

  65. Manned space travel to where? The nearest star with a possibly inhabitable planet in orbit is 12 Light Years away! The resources required to build and launch space vehicles are rapidly diminishing, and could be better used here. We need people to design and implement sustainable systems for food, water, and energy right here right now.

  66. File under title: "Who is really serious about waste and bloat in the federal budget and cutting the deficit".

  67. Waste includes free cell phones, free medical care, and many other issues that are not in the constitution.

  68. Actually Alex, it's right there in the first line of the Constitution;
    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

    Right after 'defence' (maybe you didn't read any further) it says "promote the general welfare", which would include medicare, social security, and things like infrastructure.

  69. We humans have short memories. Eisenhower warned against the impact of the military-industrial complex. Even as recently as Rumsfeld, under Bush 43, the SecDef was calling for reduced army and reduced budget.

    Why have we persisted in excessive funding of the military? Simply because military contractors are major contributors to congressional campaign coffers.
    Stop the problem of campaign donations by federally funding federal elections, and strictly proscribing additional contributions...and the symptoms of campaign financing will go away.

    Then there is the question of our projection of military might...and continued and excessive deployment of peacetime forces on foreign soil. Bring that back and cut it out, and you'll likely find that our 'friends' who undermine us while taking our money will collapse.

    Do we really need to spend more for defense than the next 13 nations combined? Our expenditures for infrastructure repair don't rank anywhere near that high. Or for education, either.

  70. We do have short memories. We forget WWII, WWI, the Cold War, and countless skirmishes which never came to our shores because a strong military mostly operating over there. Expensive yes, but consider the alternatives. Expensive yes but consider the trickle down technology and consider the number of good industrial jobs which have not gone overseas.

  71. It's expensive to play "Cop-on-the-Beat" for the world. Craig from Pennsylvania is happy to spend our money defending the rest of the world. When Europe and Asia and South America start paying that tab -- hell, just any part of it -- I'll support an oversized military.

  72. Eliminate the USAF. Retain the A-10; merge it into the army. Mothball older Carriers. The subs are an ultimate weapon, impossible to defeat and expensive to replace: keep 'em. Mothball 1/2 of the long range B 52's. That'll save some money!

  73. Says the Board, "The committee abdicated responsibility for one of the Pentagon’s biggest challenges, pay and benefits. If left unaddressed, they could eventually consume most of the budget and make weapons modernization impossible."

    Will the Board address the rising costs of Social Security and Medicare with the same level of concern? Or, for that matter, the costs of the Affordable Care Act?

  74. The Board is not writing about Social Security or Medicare. The Board is writing about the military budget. The one has nothing to do with the other, except insofar as each takes from the other. I do wish conservatives would stop conflating unlike issues.

  75. Congress hasn't taken on Social Security, Medicare or the Affordable Care Act in any constructive way. The GOP wants to privatize Social Security and cancel Medicare and the ACA -- not improve them. Let the Board know when Congress comes up with some constructive criticism and program revisions for these programs. So far they haven't shown an appetite for anything constructive -- with regard to these safety net programs or Defense -- just a healthy appetite for campaign contributions from the military-industrial lobbyists.

  76. If we go to a single payer system and we end up paying what other industrial nations pay for healthcare. We would be saving some $1.4 trillion a year, and cover every person in the country. Now you may say, "but that's socialism we can't have that," but then the military is a socialist institution, the post office, the police, fire department... and we still have the most powerful capitalist economy in the world. Healthcare is not a profit center though we're treating it as though it is. Of course you can have a committee cut the benefits of healthcare and save money but then you have lousy healthcare for fewer people who needs that?

  77. $600 B-I-L-L-I-O-N?? For ONE year?? And that is considered "tight"? That is (if my math is correct - my calculator doesn't have enough digits) almost $1,800 per every man, woman and child in the country. This is insanity.

  78. Does that $600B include Veterans Affairs, NSA, CIA, Homeland Security, the Energy Department or interest on debt from W's wars.
    I fear that's a low ball figure.

  79. The great political minds in Washington, ever fearful of not being reelected, operate within the numbers proposed by some unseen, unaccountable committee. Does it occur to anybody that the numbers are bloated from the start, that the system is rigged?

    The Republican Party with the cooperation of some fearful Democrats prefers to cut benefits for the lower and middle classes to touching the sacrosanct military budget. The U.S. already spends more on its military than all the rest of the nations in the world combined. Cut it by at least a third and the U.S. will still be spending too much for imagined security.

    Cut the military budget sharply and put that money to work helping the folks on Main Street who are still trying to find a job. Cut the military budget.

  80. Perhaps you forget that the military employes many people either directly or indirectly so cutting their budget will harm the economy.

  81. Sure, and how many military personnel will become one of those trying to find a job? How many people working for defense contrtactors will lose their job because of your benevolence. Imagined security. I see. Why don't you talk to Ambassador Chris Stevens widow about imagined security. It's that imagined security that got them killed. Better yet, why don't you go to Benghazi and tour the Hollywood stage crime scene.
    You might also want to ask why your President Obama why he's spending millions on his obsession with drone attacks.
    Better yet why don't you ask him why he gave $5 billion in oil subsidies to Brazil's largest oil company or why he gave $1.5 billion to the Muslim Brotherhood.
    Why don't you ask him why he's had more soldiers serve and die if Afghanistan than Bush.

    Why don't you address the VA and how VA hospitals in 8 states are being investigated for "cooking the books" so people who waited months for care had their information purged so it would look like they were being treated on time.
    Maybe you can ask why Bush increased welfare spending $236 billion during his term and Obama, through 5 years, increased spending $41 billion.
    May you can ask President Obama why he signed the farm bill which decreased funding to the SNAP program $8 billion dollars.

    You live in Sweden yet you're now an expert on our defense budget? I love your generalized statement with no facts. I included several. Which do you think have more credibility, more weight. It is not yours!!

  82. The military has sucked America, with bipartisan approval, into its capacious maw and is fast destroying democracy, itself a shadow, if that, of its hypothetical self.

    America, aka National Security State aka Fortress America so impregnated with militarism that it is willing to sacrifice the health and well-being of its people to an aggressive war machine not only in response to local interests but also the imperatives of global hegemony.

    Not "campaign donors" etc but a morally corrupted society drives the war budget, with drone assassination, multiple interventions, paramilitary operations worldwide for regime change, all for what?! Why this social insanity? Is it because we know deep-down of US decline both as unilateral global superpower AND political economy limping now because of a devouring selfishness, arrogance, and greed? Ys, to both.

    And NYT--no, you don't want to hear--is complicit, merely wanting more efficiency, more bang for the buck. Never a moral argument; only, Behemoth costs too much. Phase out some weapons systems, have base cuttings, No, the waste would "make weapons modernization impossible," i.e. a still more LETHAL nuclear arsenal. Oh those "parochial interests," when we far-sighted think-tank expert geostratigists Guardians of Freedom as responsible internationalists want only to "responsibly rebalance American military forces," say, .5 trillion will do, not .6.

    Not spending, the entire framework is flawed, yet NYT in full support.

  83. Have we totally forgotten how the USSR was "defeated"? We engaged them in an arms race and they collapsed as a result of trying to maintain a mighty military. Thus will the USA fall as we continue with a military paradigm which was once appropriate for the types of wars that were fought but need a paradigm shift for the 21st century. The grotesquely bloated military takes resources that are needed to educate, give adequate housing, food and medical care to the very population that our military claims to protect.

  84. Certainly, the porkish aspects of defense spending have not disappeared and never will in our government -- they've been with us since our beginnings. But there are other factors at work here in considering our defense budget that shouldn't be ignored.

    There are many Americans who disagree with the notion that we should downsize our military capacity as rapidly as Mr. Obama wishes to, transparently to better fund domestic priorities he wishes to pursue. Many of those Americans see the increasing instability throughout the world as the natural consequence of a perception by nations that the U.S. is in general global retreat and will not project force, even when necessary. Nobody seriously questions the president's authority to define the missions of our military, but many question the wisdom of the decisions he's made. Some in Congress, no doubt, see appropriations intransigence as a means of stalling such downsizing until a new president takes office.

    And Mr. Obama gives every appearance of putting the cart before the horse. He hasn't sold his domestic social priorities to enough Americans to allow him to implement them: if he had, Congress still would be a Democratic preserve; and, far from that, it's likely to be an undivided Republican preserve come January, 2015. Before he risks further weakening our global military posture, he might consider the extremely low likelihood that he'll be permitted to proceed with his social priorities, whether the money is there or not.

  85. "There are many Americans who disagree with the notion that we should downsize our military capacity as rapidly as Mr. Obama wishes to, transparently to better fund domestic priorities he wishes to pursue."

    Yes, many oppose his military cuts so that he can use the money to buy the votes of the underclass.

  86. It is well past time that we stop being the world's policeman and the multinational corporations strong arm enforcers. Stop killing our young men in foreign entanglements and bring them home to rebuild our infrastructure and produce the next generation. Send the worthless parasites of our political class to see if they are able to accomplish what they want our military to do. Their destruction would be no loss to us.

  87. Don't expect this House of Representatives to act responsibly. Beyond that, something I've found upsetting is the fact that we don't even use this military force that we pamper with, at least for many, excessive benefits. We should have used our military in Syria to confront Assad, and in S. Sudan and C.A.R. to quickly put a stop to atrocities. Especially so in Syria, about which Obama said that Assad should go, encouraging the fighting, and later said that Assad would pay for using chemical weapons. Now Russia does what it wants, it has a great windfall in Crimea already, with oil and gas in the Black Sea, and we did nothing effective about it.

  88. It's really hard to insert troops in a neighboring country to a major power without a government request, especially when the government is a transitional government or provisional. It's hard to go into Syria when the public was opposed, and much of Congress, along with nations around the world.

    The days of landing the Marines on a beach head, sending in support, and announcing "Mission accomplished" are gone.

    Most conflicts are internal, between fractions within a country. That radically changes the calculus for the use of military force. In Crimea, Russia hid behind a civilian population which supported its intrusion.

    But small bands of terrorist and insurgents should be eliminated by teams of special forces without regard for enemy survivors.

  89. Your world view of endless war is neither sustainable or palatable.

  90. The Republican Party has been demanding that the Democrats find ways to finance the spending on much needed social programs for the American people, well here is a way that would accomplish just that. If Republicans don't yield on this issue, then they have no right to accuse the Dems of reckless spending. The Pentagon admits there are many ways to save billions and Chuck Hagel can do it, but both Republicans and Democrats need to stop this obvious wasteful spending and concentrate on helping the American people, not rewarding campaign donors. Our current campaign laws are the number one reason our Government is not working, not Republicans and Democrats.

  91. Funny, during the Bush 2 administration there was no problem with closing bases in blue states. I doubt that Congress is listening to the concerns of the citizens in the states that would be effected by base closings. After all, they have no problem cutting unemployment aid to those same states. It is the military contractors who pay for political campaigns they really don't want to anger. Budgets? What are they in the face of lobbyists for your dearest friends?

  92. Insane military spending helped sink the Roman Empire and it is clearly helping sink the American Empire.

    The United States Congress should read a few history, economics and mathematics textbooks and then do the right thing and slash the bloated budget for bullets, bombs and bombastic bellicosity.

    Driving the country bankrupt with defense pork and bacon is not very patriotic.

  93. Congress has always been institutionally incapable of leading on national defense issues. The President -- and his most recent three predecessors -- have provided mostly bad leadership. For all of his faults as a combat commander, Donald Rumsfeld had a coherent understanding of the need for defense transformation and the direction that transformation should take.

    Arguments about the size of the army or base closings are sideshows. The future of our defense effectiveness will be determined by two factors: the time and cost to deployment of effective, networked systems and units and our capability to rapidly deliver right-sized effects (kinetic, cyber, or otherwise) without interference by an adversary and without sending a ground soldier anywhere we might send those effects from space, the air, or the sea.

    Time and cost to deployment have tripled since 1970. We can and must reduce these costs. Moreover, institutional imperatives of maintaining and modernizing large ground forces drive defense costs, inhibit effectiveness, and encourage misadventures such as the Bush-Obama Iraq and Afghanistan misadventures. Thirty years of bad leadership have left us with an Army unable to sustain the operations tempo demanded of it, but -- more importantly -- air and naval forces that are skeletons of what they need to be.

    It's time to dust off the advice of Mahan, Mitchell, the often adversarial duo of Curtis Lemay and Arleigh Burke, and Kelly Johnson.

  94. "Bush-Obama Iraq and Afghanistan misadventures"? I believe that Mr. Obama has been working to get us OUT of those quagmires.

    Stop the false equivalencies.

  95. Politicians might seduce voters by promising that the first thing they will do when they get into office is request a lower salary. Their opponents might then challenge them by promising patriotically to take an ever lower paycheck. Perhaps all those in office who seek to lower salaries of teachers, police officers, government workers and military troops might show us the way by reducing the burdens they themselves are causing on the national budget. But of course they wont because they will argue that to attract the best we have to pay them better salaries.

  96. This editorial & the commentary has set my mind to mulling how we could more effectively use Defense to increase our overall national security.

    I recommend that Defense could be used to serve our larger concept of national security by strengthening the U.S. economy.

    The Military Industrial Complex is at issue and I am reasonably certain that it can be made significantly more efficient in protecting the environment, increasing our energy security, and improving the nutrition of our national food supply while also carrying out its responsibility to protect our trade routes, US businesses & traveling Americans outside the country.

    The initiatives that come to mind, & there may be others, are:

    1) electrify transportation by increasing the capacity of President Eisenhower's Defense Highway System by adding guideways for the faster (300 mph) & much more efficient 2nd generation Maglev transport for freight & passengers. This will reduce logistics costs, enormously.

    2) Commission a new fleet of nuclear ships & submarines and decommission oil and gas powered ships, including the huge number of oil carrying refueling ships (while refueling, ships must slow and they are vulnerable).

    3) Provide secure autonomous nuclear electric power and grid for military bases.

    4) Dredge & enlarge ports & modernize terminals for Panamax ships.

    5) Provide secure autonomous fresh water supply to all bases

    6) Build housing with solar roofs.

    7) We are in recession, don't lay off workers

  97. Well this is the only form of economic stimulus and job creation for which political cover exist. Production of supposedly secret military hardware can never be offshored and Americans are perennially enamoured with warriors.
    This is one of the ironies of American politics: effective expansive fiscal policies are anathema due to "deficit concerns," but wasteful weapons programmes like the massively overpriced F-35 are never abandoned.

    You are in serious need of politicians that care more about people than ideology...

  98. This Congress is fine with cutting off services to people in need in order to finance lobby-rich industrialists. It is breathtaking. Pay for airplanes that don't fly, ships that figuratively don't float. And simultaneously stripping away unemployment benefits, SNAP, etc.

    Has it no decency?

  99. The simple answer is NO. The complicated answer is still NO.

  100. Peace time industries were turned overnight into war machine industries 70 years ago and continue to grow.
    Now it's time to change the war machine industries back to peace time industries to repair our infrastructure, to build high speed rail, to build a country using solar and wind for energy sources to mention only a few.

    If we can't stop obscene profits and excessive pay to CEO's lets at least get something good for the country out of it.

  101. The two major crimes against Americans are excessive defense spending and the money the Walton heirs make with their workers on food stamps and medicaid.

    Given that our global political success is more likely to come from economic sanctions and muscle rather than getting bogged down in military messes, it would seem more prudent to strengthen ourselves by strengthening our economic base. Cut military spending by half. Double the minimum wage.

  102. Amazing, the Soviet Union's demise was heavily influenced by its massive government spending on military and defense while ignoring physical and social infrastructure. Now, we have conservatives in both parties urging the US to follow the same well worn path. The Republican House is unable or unfit to govern. Will the Senate do better? It is at least a possibility.

  103. Hagel is in the best position to decide what the military needs or does not need. Congress should listen to Hagel and not the lobbyists. In too many cases Congress approves purchase of old design planes or equipment that the military neither needs or wants but its built in the districts of a Congressman on one of the committees.

  104. "Hagel is in the best position to decide what the military needs or does not need."

    Hagel is a politician not professional military.

  105. One of the primary reasons that defense projects are so hard to cut back or eliminate is that defense contractors set up production of weapons in all 50 states, and no politician wants their state to loose money. Obviously, this is one of the reasons that defense is so costly--rather than trying to make projects as inexpensive as possible, defense contractors actually try to make their projects as expensive as possible.

    As for the eliminating the A-10, I'm a critic of our defense that is strongly in favor of keeping it. Some critics have pointed out that we make aircraft like swiss watches while Russia makes aircraft like German tanks. Those A-10s were some of the most practical weapons ever made--relatively inexpensive to produce (about $16 million in todays dollars), devastatingly effective and tough (they remind me of Russian aircraft). What would succeed them? The F-35, one of the most expensive weapons ever produced--$165 million per plane and rising--10X the cost of the A-10.

    I regard weapons programs like this to be essentially jobs programs, but as such, they waste probably the bulk of their funds. I'd rather cut back on defense spending by cutting back on our wasteful weapons programs and using some of those funds to improve our infrastructure, including our electrical delivery system. Even more people could be put to work, and we'd be able to utilize the results.

  106. Gee I don't trust this administration to make any decisions, they are all driven by politics, rather than needs. Say we have an issue against an opponent with tanks and no A10's to use. It seems that instead of looking at the most effective way to address threats, we just forget that defense is in the constitution and many other functions of the federal government are not. How about eliminating some of them and keeping a core responsibility.

  107. Say, who has tanks? Israel? Bolivia? Egypt? China? Russia? What are we doing there in the first place? It takes a long jump from tensions to armed conflict and military engagement. Half of the world's hot spots don't have suitable terrain for tank warfare; think Vietnam. Many methods of defense exists, including anti-tank missiles (the Javelin, the BGM-71 TOW, AGM-114 Hellfire) that are state of the art and effective from a number of firing platforms.

    But I agree we should keep the A-10.

  108. Very naïve statement if you think other administrations weren't driven by politics. Welcome to the real world. All defense budgets have been driven by politics.

  109. Yeah, we should continue to spend more on defense then the next 16 other countries who spend anything on defense, because why? We could annihilate everyone on earth a hundred times over now. Just to make neocons feel better? It don't think so.

  110. Typical of the House. Their battle cry of cut spending is ignored when there is pork in their district.

  111. It would be easy to trash only Republicans on this issue, but our Massachusetts liberals line up with their colleagues in bipartisan support of defense spending. We simply cannot continue to spend on defense like there is no tomorrow especially when there _are_ public investments that really do invent and build our economic future. We need the imagination and courage to change before we go bankrupt and become a second rate economic power.

  112. The Defense industry is a jobs program. A completely government run jobs program that employs millions of people, and redistributes billions of dollars of wealth from the rich states to poor states. It is the perfect socialist enterprise.

    Seriously. If we decimate the military, where will the jobs be? Where will people find employment in this new country we have built? A country where everything is built in China and purchased at Wal-Mart. And what will replace the spending that the Military doles out to the economy? Spending by GE? Ford, GM? Intel? Common, get real.

    But there is a problem with this military spending. And that is that we don't tax the rich and the corporations enough to pay for this socialist wealth redistribution. Instead, we borrow the money (from, for example, the Social Security Trust Fund), or try and take the money from other sources, like Medicare, the ACA, Medicaid and Food stamps.

    Which gets to the point of all of this - While the corporations and the wealthy are living it up, the U.S. as a whole is in decline. By not taxing the wealthy, by letting U.S. corporations move to foreign tax havens (see Pfizer), and by "globalizing" our economy, we have come to the point where we can no longer afford socialism anymore, even if its is military socialism. And so something has to give. Either we tax those who benefit from this country's greatness, or we give up our country's greatness.

  113. The Republicans are approaching election season so the craziness starts now with the big story about the VA blown to gigantic proportions and sounding like no one ever gets treated. Then comes the defense of defense and the flags start waving. Mr. Gates tried his best to streamline the military but got almost nowhere. I am tired of hearing about how assistance for helping the needy should be cut, education, student loans, social security, medicare, etc. How many wars do these fools want to fight?

  114. Significant cuts won't happen in the foreseeable future because the military-industrial complex has employed schemes to keep the money flowing. One of the most diabolical is having military hardware constructed in as many congressional districts as possible, with no regard as to how this affects the cost or quality of the product. Our military, including thousands of nuclear weapons, has no reason to be so large, other than as a source of money for a select few.

  115. We are IN this mess, and other financial messes around the country, for the simple reason that Congress' priorities always follow the priorities of the large army (pun somewhat intended) of lobbyists that patrol Washington, reminding Senators and Representatives who pays for their re-election, not what is best for our country and regular citizens.

  116. The ugly truth is that DOD spending is a giant welfare program.

    Weapons manufacturers give big money to politicians.

    The military employs, directly and indirectly, thousands upon thousands of people who otherwise would have no job in our 21st century economy.

    We're always at war somewhere for something, maintaining a far-flung empire, at the behest of politicians whose coffers overflow with military dollars.

    And many of these same actors carp about the costs of teacher salaries and the Affordable Care Act.


  117. It's the outrageous same old story. Reading recommended, Mother Jones, issue Feb. this year. We've got to put more pressure on our Congressional reps. It so highlights our disgraceful impotence as a "Democratic" country, that these flagrant wastes continue untouched:
    1. Congress ordered the Pentagon to be audited like any other government agency-in 1997- as of yet it has not happened, they are incapable?
    2. We now are spending in today's dollars, about 66% of what we spent at the height of WWII, which was financed with taxes, not credit.
    3. Without considering the ACA issues, the Pentagon is now the largest healthcare provider in the U.S., with about 9.6 million people on the roles.
    4. Spending (just a few examples) 85 million on tobacco products, 102 million on live animals (not for food), operating 170 golf courses world wide, budgeting 4 million to change the camo pattern on the uniform again, after spending 5 million in 2004 for the same thing.
    Are we doomed to endure this forever?

  118. Perhaps a great way to get started reducing the ridiculous amount of resources wasted on defense would be to globally negotiate a given percentage reduction in spending. Maybe a great way to get started would be start with China before we become fully engaged in another cold war spending spree. For every percent they reduce spending we would double it. Imagine where this could lead, the hungry being fed the sick receiving medical attention how would that change our image?

  119. The House ducks on making a decision on anything requiring an explanation and choice that requires any sacrifice or cuts. Because the American people have been frightened into believing that there is an existential threat to the nation they have surrendered their liberty and freedom to spying, kidnapping, torture and indefinite detention in the name of national security.

    The military-industrial complex was not a deterrent to acts of terror by Islamic extremists. Nor was it capable of detecting and preventing the attacks. Nor was our military-industrial complex capable of winning enough hearts and minds in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and Yemen to change the socioeconomic political calculus in America's favor.

    The F-35, F-22, Ford Class Aircraft carriers, Seawolf attack submarines and Ohio Class SSBN's are not relevant to box cutters and IED's. Nor do they matter to fighters motivated by ethnic sectarian racial causes. The Soviet Union does not exist. And Russia and China are part of the interconnected global socioeconomic class. America won the Cold War and the rest of the world is rising toward the American civil secular egalitarian plural capitalist democratic model.

    America's ultimate defense and national security rests on fair socioeconomics and an ability to govern effectively. Along with having our actions and practices match our proclaimed rhetoric and policy.

    There are no graver sins than hypocrisy and pride. Practicing our values is the only way to defense.

  120. I do not think it's cowardice at all. I think there is a basic philosophy at work within the Republican Party that renders any cut to defense spending counterproductive to their primary goal.

    That primary goal is to concentrate America's wealth into ever fewer hands at the top, whether that "top" is considered to be corporate entities or extremely wealthy individuals. Some of the most influential members of this group are defense contractors and their executives, and the Republican Party dances to their tune.

    Everything that Republicans do is in service to that one overriding goal. Even the most whimsical, inexplicable positions they take, positions that frequently run clearly counter to America's best interests in the fiscal, social, justice or security realms, are easily explainable and wholly logical when measured against that primary goal of concentrating wealth and power into the fewest hands possible.

    It is their be-all and end-all, and once you understand that fact, everything they do makes perfect sense.

  121. Congress is afraid of many things, defense contractors lead a long list that includes the NRA and the right to lifers. But voters would do well to remember that while we speak of these organizations as powerful what really frightens both them and our representatives is losing OUR vote. Yes, losing military spending can mean lost jobs but if we really mean it when we say we want our government to do not only better but its best it is time for these kinds of painful choices to be made and the sooner the better. Average Americans know what these cuts can mean and are willing to make them even if it means losing money personally. Congress on the other hand, can't fathom abandoning the cash trough. The last half of the last line of the editorial is right on.

  122. Congress' behavior over Defense cuts resembles a bank that keeps giving more loans to a customer who has no financial records and keeps missing payments. We're still looking for a balance sheet and the trillions that have been missing for over a decade. Where's the oil money that was supposed to pay for Iraq and Afghanistan? Who's rebuilding and defending the continental U.S.? We're not getting what we pay for. The Boston Marathon, drug wars in the Southwest, and 9/11 are good examples how poorly we are defended. Defense cuts are simple, quit defending other countries. Get out of countries that we've occupied since WWII, like Germany and Japan.

  123. Our federal government as well as state governments seem addicted to the military and prison industrial complexes, and only want them to grow, and grow. The human losses from these choices show up all around the world, and will result in our downfall.

  124. when one does the simple addition and combines the DoD, DHLS and the intelligence budgets - the REAL bottom line on defense emerges as $2.2 trillion.

    that's about $6500/citizen/year. or, for the imaginary family of 4 - $26,000/year - or $500/week - it's more than twice what we spend on food.

    that's a lot of money to defend ourselves from enemies need not have in the first place.

    in comparison

  125. Given the imperialist actions of China and Russia, and the existential threat those countries pose to the United States, only idiots would propose cutting the defense budget. As Vladimir Putin once said: "The weak will perish."

  126. The Soviet Union wasn't weak either. They are gone now. It is the mindless reaction to any change that is the real threat.

  127. Let's spend five times what Russia spends. That should be enough to deal with Putin, right? That would cut our defense budget in half.

  128. Outdated planes and tanks will not help. New technology is needed to fight any new battle. With the use of drones, we have saved pilot's lives. Who knows what the new technology will bring.

  129. What a spineless group the House of Representatives is. I've never had less respect for those people. They feed the hands that feed them while starving the poor and powerless.

    Even worse, though, is the inability of the electorate to see—intentionally or otherwise— what is going on and vote those creeps out of government.

    Why can't they figure out a way to make all those factories build something other than weapons? Whatever happened to "swords into ploughshares?" Can't they make something that adds to the economy rather than subtracts from it?

  130. The biggest shame here is that the the big spending military budget hawks who are the real enemies of an efficient 21st century military favoring bloated spending on outdated expenditures, and who hobble needed spending on other non-military programs can present themselves as "patriots" when they are in fact responsible for a weaker military and a declining nation.

    These Big Spenders who mock us all further by calling themselves fiscal conservatives are the real enemies within our midst.

  131. Fiscal and conservative are a contradiction in terms when it comes to the military-industrial complex's appetite for American's tax dollars.

  132. The people who profit from wars have cleverly placed all their war-making factories in each state. They pay for the war chests of our elected people who are then beholden to their funders and not to us. We need to think of something else for America to export besides movies and war. Our elected people have been purchased. Until we have serious campaign finance reform (and what bought person will dare vote for that?) we will make weapons and create wars to justify our huge expenses on stuff designed to kill people. Ike was right.

  133. The NYT joins the tea party and advocates for cuts in a world of "declining resources" and "shocking" costs. But is it our bloated entitlement system or wasted expenditures on failing social remedies it wants to slash? Of course not. Resources are apparently declining only when our defense budget comes up.

    Defense is the only federal expenditure that works and is essential in a more dangerous world. Why don't you look elsewhere? I guess you can't buy votes with spending on our common security

  134. The last 15 years of War history and regime change have "worked" ? You have deceived yourself.

  135. I thought I remembered Speaker Boehner garnering quite a flood of popular ink for his move to extinguish the pork barrel. I'm not sure what he really accomplished, but this article sure makes it apparent that there are some big oinkers sneaking in the back door, and a lot of grease is dripping from the rafters of the people's house.

  136. It is great fun to watch the hypocrisy of Republicans. Even they are human, and I feel schadenfreude as they squirm in their cognitive dissonance.

    Hey Republicans, increase federal spending on government programs! (I'm sorry, didn't the primer you received when you entered Congress inform you that Defense was part of Big Government?)

  137. And how much money did the committee allocate for the one US agency which has sent over 140,000 American men and women to 140 countries - including Afghanistan, Iran, Libya, Syria, China, etc. in the past 50 some odd years and has succeeded in getting many people in these countries to admire our country? Or does the committee not know that the Peace Corps still exists? Or, perhaps they know but just don't give a hoot because the Peace Corps has no lobbyists and sells no weapons (except goodwill).

  138. I'm fairly certain that the Peace Corps' budget does not fall under the armed services committees, unless they've recently armed the Peace Corps.

  139. I'm in favor of a smaller military budget, but it's not so simple. During one of the recent budget brouhahas, automatic cutbacks were blamed for job losses across the economy. Where will the military and civilian workers affected find jobs? Will this be another case where cutbacks in the federal budget slows the recovery to a halt?

  140. We could cut the defence budget in half just by not building the better mouse trap, eliminating the mouse traps that have cost overruns like the 300 million dollar airplane that won't fly.

  141. The U.S. needs to bring all of our soldiers home now from Iraq and Afghanistan and not start any new wars in Iran, Syria, etc. We need to dialogue and trade with enemies as well as friends and not favor any nation. Then, we won't need the bloated, wasteful defense spending that only serves the interests of the military-industrial complex and their war hawks in Congress.Finally, end all U.S. foreign aid, starting with the $3 billion yearly welfare check to apartheid Israel.

  142. Energy security should be a top budget priority. Perhaps proactive-steps to address these vulnerabilities will only be made when the threat is undeniable and the costs of inaction unavoidable. For our national and economic security, I hope that we can come together as Americans to address this problem before we endure another natural disaster or continue to entangle ourselves in costly wars and interventions in the Middle East.

  143. The "Deep State" makes the important decisions, congressmen are but pawns.

  144. Will the president stand up for his budget proposal? He has vetoed two (2) bills in the first 2/3 of his 8-year presidency.

  145. When brand new USAF aircraft built in Ohio are flown, one time, directly from the factory to the "bone yard" at David Monthan AFB in Tucson, there is a defense problem.
    When the US Army Chief of Staff and Secretary of the Army, both tell Congress no more M-1 Abrams tanks are needed, the tank plant in Lima, Ohio keeps on producing them and they then sit moth balled in the elements, there is a defense problem.
    Never mind the opportunity cost of tax payer dollars for such folly of current incumbent in Congress.

  146. Why is this a surprise? They also duck making changes to Medicare and Social Security which are far more costly programs.

  147. No, actually Congress changed Social Security so that some citizens could access the cookie jar without having paid into it.

  148. During my 30+ years in the US Army I have watched the constant battle over defense spending. Money is the root of the problem. Corporations which operate defense related industries pour millions into "campaign contributions" (bribes) to members of congress. The F-35 is just another in a long line of obsolete weapons systems this country has invested. Remember Uncle Ron bringing back battleships out of mothballs? The battleship was demined obsolete in 1942 but it took until almost the 21st century to finally turn them all into museums. The defense industry drives the procurement of new equipment. They create systems and sell them to DOD through sales campaigns at the lowest level required to create a demand for the system. I have witnessed the sales teams for these systems over and over. During conferences there are legions of sales reps hawking everything from

  149. Yes, and that is why I say that any cuts in pay and benefits should NOT be on the table till after a lot of this runaway waste of money is under control!

  150. Hmmm ... I would have thought that politicians favoring small government would try to cut the military budget to the point where it could be drowned in a bathtub. Somehow this never seems to happen.

  151. For the Tea Party, cutting the Pentagon budget would appear to be an unforgiveable heresy. This is the very issue of "Big Government" which should change.

  152. At the same tie the highway fund is going broke and food stamps are being cut. Corrupt, negligent congress!

  153. Maintaining aging weapon systems in today’s global military technology environment will cost American lives when they have to be used. It is analogous to the brave souls at Pearl Harbor who gave their lives trying to take on the Japanese Zero with Brewster Buffalo aircraft, known as the “flying coffin”. The A-10 and the U-2 should be retired and replaced with more efficient and cost effective weapons of war.

    Perpetuating the status quo puts American servicemen and women at risk. In a declining budget environment, money used to fund aging weapon systems could be put to better use acquiring modern technologically current weapons, more / better R&D to solve real time battlefield problems and prepare to fight the next war, not the previous one. I hope we have “ been there- done that”.

    Congress needs to be: responsible to the American Service man or woman; execute their oversight responsibly as Americans first and politicians second; and show that as a deliberative body they can act for the betterment of the Country as a whole.

  154. The real threat to USA security is technology. We need to be the best in that area. No tank is going to combat our grids shutting down. Bagel has been stressing this and the same communities that build tanks, planes and submarines could also teach the same workers to do what will really make a difference....r&d, computer science, world history????

  155. These guys don't deserve to be called congressmen. They are self serving hacks. Perhaps "puppets" would be a better word. We need term limits and major campaign finance reform- and we need it yesterday.

  156. I thought we just stopped two wars? Am I mistaken? Why do we need to add more to defense? Makes zero sense while our infrastructure crumbles.

  157. According to the recently published American Society of Civil Engineers Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, the grade for dams is close to a failing mark, averaging “D’s” thanks to delayed maintenance and underinvestment. In less than a decade, three-quarters of the total dams in the United States will be more than a half-century old. With some smart investments in their improvement, they could be a significant source of power for decades to come.

  158. Remember the "Peace Dividend" when the cuts were coming to the Defense spending of the Reagan era?

  159. $79 Billion for war financing? Could this conceivably be the cost of the remaining draw down in Afghanistan? If not this, then what is it for?

    And $18 Billion for defense-related nuclear programs? Again what is this for? Must be maintenance and upgrade of our bloated nuclear arsenal, or might it be decommissioning?

    Well no matter, all of this is cloaked under the banner of national security and is highly classified.

    In any case rational change in our “defense” budget will never survive the parochial political self interest that historically holds absolute sway over almost all congressional actions on military related expenditures. I say almost because there is a traditionally vulnerable area which is a matter of open public record absent the veil of classification -- personnel services and compensation.

    Thirteen years of totally unfruitful American foreign military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, neither of which had any direct relevance to actual defense of the nation and as yet no real accountability to the American people for this morass.

    Seriously and prudently tailoring our military forces for the future is apparently out of the question. Instead just business as usual and more of the same self-serving inaction from our fractured factionalized Congress. Barring all else, you’ve got to bring the pork home.

  160. What is that $79 billion for? Apparently it is just a lie, to work around the budget cuts. It is shameful that it is being reported as something it is not.

    "Unlike the main base defence budget, the war funding is not subject to the mandatory spending limits enacted by Congress, known as sequestration. Both the Pentagon and lawmakers last year moved about US$29 billion in funding out of the base budget to the overseas contingency fund (OCO), as a way of countering the effect of the automatic budget cuts. This practice has "largely offset the cuts to the base budget from sequestration"

    "the military has also been using OCO to train troops, refurbish and modernize its equipment, maintain bases and force presence outside of Afghanistan, and do other activities not directly related to the war effort. Pentagon leaders want that extra money to continue flowing in an era when Congress has put caps on the base budget. A final OCO request has not yet been made for fiscal 2015, but in budget documents, DOD listed $79 billion as a “placeholders” figure."

    It has been used to keep the A-10 in the peacetime budget, not to use it in any war, but just to fund its force structure.

  161. Not until citizens understand the defense costs, a material portion which is wasteful, are opportunity costs diverted from such things as roads, bridges, waterways, energy grid, education and infrastructure will demands for change be forthcoming.

    Every defense dollar spent abroad is a dollar not spent on our shores not to mention the multiplier effect in our economy.

  162. "Well no matter, all of this is cloaked under the banner of national security and is highly classified." Actually, it's not. The war supplement and nuclear weapons budgets are relatively transparent, and you can find plenty of more specific breakdowns online. I think you're thinking of things like the intelligence and special operations budgets, which are more opaque.

  163. Increasing the budget for veterans health care should be a first priority that every member of Congress, bureaucrat at the Pentagon, and White House advisor can agree on, including the Commander-in-Chief and the Joint Chief. A real commitment to national defense is a visible, unwavering commitment to the men and women who serve, especially their health and safety; merited by their sacrifice.

    The dismal--and criminal--state of affairs at VA health units speaks to this urgent priority. Deaths and suicides of veterans, and the grief of their families, because of an overburdened system should not continue in a time of tight money because a district contractor wants to increase cost overruns.

    Put troops first. Pay for their services by eliminating wasteful and unnecessary systems which will never get built or used.

    Congress' priorities are backwards. Defense begins with defending our own sons and daughters, yet Congress continues to put weapon systems first, along with changes in uniforms (new camo, new hats!), and relying on a contracting system that sees costs expand while ignoring new, small businesses willing to meet contract specs with quality and reliability at lower costs.

    The singular Cold War survivor is the defense budget. Its knee jerk response to cuts is a jackpot not for safety or security, but too frequently for greed.

    Greed is not a constitutional priority; it should not be allowed to hide behind our commitment to a strong defense.

  164. To bad the congress has anything to do with the military and its budget. Time for a constitutional amendment that weakens their say in these matters.

  165. To almost every Republican in Congress, and to far too many Democrats, "Support our troops" REALLY means "Support our defense contractors, even if it means stiffing our troops."

    Although I don't count even as an "armchair warrior" or even as a videogame one, I do see an ongoing role for the A10. But most of the other toys -- the ones that the Pentagon doesn't want and/or won't and can't work -- we can live a lot better without them than with them, especially since the Republicans in Congress feel that not we, but our children and grandchildren should be the ones to pay for them, with interest.

    Unfortunately, yes, there will be job losses, losses that can't all be made up with increased domestic production of wind turbines, construction equipment, rail cars, etc. And there are essentially no bases left in the Northeast which can be closed, so the cuts will have to come from the "Red States," which are already receiving massive federal welfare from the states which have already made sacrifices.

    Ronald Reagan succeeded in bankrupting the Soviet Union largely through getting them to waste a greater proportion of their assets on "defense" than we did. It's long past time that his worshippers realize that maybe they shouldn't do the same to our own country.

  166. There is no such thing as "political fallout" anymore. What they are afraid of is that big donors, with ties to defense contractors, will be unhappy and reduce their political contributions. "Political fallout" (a weird expression in the first place by its reference to nuclear weapons) no longer has meaning because money, not public opinion, rules our national political system.

  167. I think we are going about this backwards. Our military spending should be driven by our foreign policy plus a contingency for the unexpected. We have been the world's cop for decades and all it has gotten us is tens of thousands dead and hundreds of thousands wounded, plus a lot of people who hate us. I would pull back, take care of our friends and those who want to be our friends, then tell the rest of the world (including all of the middle east) 'you are on your own, good luck.'

    if we did this we could probably get by with a military half of its current size. Use some of the savings to upgrade the remaining equipment, train the people to a higher standard and give them a pay raise. Then take the rest of the savings and take care of ourselves. With the savings from halving the military and foreign aid budget we could:

    End homelessness in the US.
    End hunger in the US.
    Fix our schools to the point where even the teacher's union would not ask for more money (well. . . maybe not, somethings only God can do).
    Provide meaningful work to all the unemployed.

    These are but a few examples. Isn't it time that we place ourselves first? To fix our own problems before we worry about 6th Century tribesmen in Endoftheworldstan?

  168. One answer to military spending; all we need to do is go back to Eisenhower era progressive tax rates on the upper brackets. The problem isn't military spending so much as it is unwillingness to pay for it - and everything else we truly need.

    Frankly, spending on the military is the closest thing we have to a jobs program or a stimulus program right now - and cutting the number of troops is just going to increase the pool of people chasing non-existent jobs. We could kill the F-35 - but we still need new planes from somewhere; the ones we have are wearing out.

    Granted, we really need a lot more spending on infrastructure, like the Gateway Project to build 2 new tunnels under the Hudson, expand Penn Station and remove other bottlenecks on the Northeast Corridor. The current tunnels used by 160,000 people daily M-F are over a century old and have maybe 20 years left before they'll have to be shut down - if we're lucky. The new tunnels will take 7-9 years to build. We really should start them now. The closure of the tunnels will do billions of dollars of damage to the economy along the NE corridor if we don't have replacements on line.

    No, just talking about spending is not enough. We have to do something about revenue too, because there are serious needs in this country that only government can address. Rather than government, it's Grover Norquist's obsession with shrinking government that needs to be drowned.

    And who knows? Climate Change just might do it.

  169. Congress has never been known to show courage. It was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the 20th century. Only problem now is that we're in the 21st century, but our Congress is still so last century.

  170. The true face of Republican fiscal responsibility: corporate welfare and "socialist" hand-outs for defence contractors, banks, and fossil fuel companies, and wars fought while cutting taxes. But government spending to build schools or help the poor is communism.

    What fun we will have, if these cynical buffoons retake the Senate in 2014! We can play "count the cash" as it disappears down the drain of a bloated military budget that even the military doesn't want.

  171. Sure enough the conservative republicans and in particular the war hawks among them will never agree to kill the case cow. Their modus operandi is why buy the cow, when they can get free milk. War financing is their way of life.

  172. Keep military basis we don’t need, continue with weapons systems the DOD does not want, pay for a the kind of military that we do not need for today’s threats and possible battle grounds. Why? Because of the military-industrial-congressional complex, which funds the continued reelection of politicians, mostly from the war party. The money comes from revenue and the war party is also the anti tax and the anti government party. The military has been diverted from the requirements of national defense to corporate greed and thus upon the demand of Big Oil and allied industries we attacked a country which had not been a threat to us and was not preparing for war against us but which kept its oil reserves under government control the cost of which enriched the rich, diminished our freedom and exploded our deficit and injured our economy.

    The congressional remedy for these policies is more of the same. High military budgets and piles of revenue wasted on the military-industrial-congressional complet with lower taxes for the wealthy, their corporations, government deregulation of business and a frontal assault on “entitlements” paid for by ordinary people: repeal the ACA, destroy Medicare, cut back of eliminate unemployment insurance, block grant Medicare as a slush fund for governors, limit public education and refuse to repair or replace where needed our national infrastructure, because we can’t afford it.

  173. First, as long as the Times Editorial Board refers to anti-democratic pandering of our elected representatives to big bucks check-writers as being "loyal to campaign donors," then we will never achieve the campaign finance reform necessary to a free society.

    Second, when a political party is reduced to a simplistic series of litmus tests -- yes on this, no on that (and that and that and that) -- it hardly matters whether the House Armed Services Committee Chairman ever actually served in the military. The flag-waiving apotheosis of Pentagon spending from a class of elected leaders who chose to avoid personal risk is risible.

  174. A young many serving in Afghanistan told me that the US Army gets new weaponry every few weeks, making the older stuff redundant. They spend a lot of time learning how to use the new equipment and then abandon it. He didn't know what was going to happen to the warehouses full of completely functional weapons. Can I guess that they will somehow disappear into a weapon supplier's horde, to be sold to whoever can pay the price? Marx said that capitalists would sell the rope that would be used to hang them. They are certainly selling the guns.

  175. If members of the Congress want to support our military and don't want to cut military funding, why not cut the programs/hardware as recommended by Defense Secretary Hagel and redirecti those funds to the VA and other programs to rectify the inadequacies that have been clearly documented in the news regarding taking care of our veterans.

  176. We arrive at an absurd $600 billion because America is not content to simply fund "defense". The cost of trying to play the world's policeman probably quadruples the funding required, while the darker goal of imposing favorable economic conditions for our corporations and compliant puppet regimes on the rest of the planet drive the true cost. Fixing our insane and sociopathic foreign policy would go a very long way toward reducing our military costs.

  177. Unfortunately cowardice is a common characteristic of members of Congress, both House and Senate. Any action that requires any courage whatsoever is routinely rejected by a majority (across both parties).

  178. This is why you need to vote in the midterms. Until we get the TP out of the house, we will be in perpetual war. Enough war spending. It's not defense spending. Defense is when somebody attacks you. We are doing all the attacking. Change the name back to the War Department.

  179. The base closure issue may be something that House Republicans can revisit when/if there is a Republican Senate. Except for California, most of the remaining bases that need to be closed are in so-called "red" states. The last time Republicans did a base closure process with a Democratic president, Clinton played politics in 1995, keeping bases in California open while other bases in Republican states closed. The process has to be even-handed in order to be fair, and Republicans are probably correct in assessing that - like immigration reform - this president cannot be trusted to be fair to lawmakers who might otherwise stick their necks out.

  180. Representative Howard (Buck) McKeon (R) of California... was frank about hoping “some miracle happens..."

    Wait--isn't he in the same party where a primetime speaker at the party's national convention said that "Hope is not a strategy, just as change is not a destination"?

    So where does hoping for a miracle fit in to the picture?

    The true farce that is the party that currently controls the House is made manifest by their unwillingness to abide by the budget caps they demanded, and made an outright lie by their passing a budget that called for reducing taxes for their fat cat backers and INCREASING the defense budget--while pretending that the budget could still be balanced by farther slashing the flimsiest safety net in the developed world.

  181. We have hundreds of military bases in other countries that are unnecessary for our defense and a waste of taxpayer dollars. Most should be closed or funded by the host countries if they want them there.

  182. My best friend for 40 years is an active duty major general in the USAF. Talking with him last week he could see where we could actually eliminate the entire USAF. Let the Navy do it's flying off Aircraft Carriers.

    He keeps telling me how much waste fraud and abuse is from civilian military contractors that gin up F-35s or Tanks we will NEVER use.

    We have used our military as the nation's largest welfare recipient. If you can't get a job, you can always join the military. Enough already. Let's turn this bloated military budget over to fixing our infrastructure and creating a green energy efficient country. NOW!

  183. The U.S. military is as large as the next TEN NATIONS COMBINED.

    Balance? Please. Eisenhower is screaming from his grave.

  184. Here is some background on the F-35 from

    "The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter — a do-it-all strike jet being designed by Lockheed Martin to evade enemy radars, bomb ground targets and shoot down rival fighters — is as troubled as ever. Any recent tidbits of apparent good news can’t alter a fundamental flaw in the plane’s design with roots going back decades.

    Owing to heavy design compromises foisted on the plane mostly by the Marine Corps, the F-35 is an inferior combatant, seriously outclassed by even older Russian and Chinese jets that can fly faster and farther and maneuver better. In a fast-moving aerial battle, the JSF “is a dog … overweight and underpowered,” according to Winslow Wheeler, director of the Straus Military Reform Project at the Project on Government Oversight in Washington, D.C."

    "Jet design like any engineering practice requires disciplined choices. The JSF is the embodiment of ambivalence — a reflection of the government and Lockheed’s inability to say that some things could not or should not be done. “It’s not clear with the F-35 that we had a strong sense of what the top priority was — trying to satisfy the Marines, the Navy or the Air Force,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Dan Ward, an expert in weapons acquisition who has been critical of complex, expensive development efforts."

    And so on.

  185. So the government wants to abdicate its responsibility to the men who served the country in its time of need rather than cut the profits of the military/industrial complex ......we need to close all the unneeded military bases around the world, sell off all excess military equipment and stop the contracts for new military hardware before cutting the pay or any allowances of the members who have served their country in its time of need......

  186. China is building up its military.

    Russia is building up their military.

    By all means, let's castrate ours.


  187. To the Editors, Keep the bloated budgets, keep the Defense industry employed (seems the ONLY place to get a job other than enlisting in the military), keep the bases open and keep all those congressmen and senators happy!
    Just one little "adjustment"; have GE, Lockheed, Boeing, etc. pay some TAXES as opposed to "legally" parking their profits off-shore or other "legal" means to avoid paying their fair share just like all other "individuals" (since given "human" status by the SCOTUS it just seems fair that they be "taxed" just like the rest of us!).
    Sure, it's just a "jobs" program but I can't see any defense contractor trying to move their business to another, cheaper country (although I'm sure many components are produced elsewhere); it just wouldn't do to have the F-35's built by the Chinese now, would it?

  188. Based on my almost 30 year experience in the military industrial complex, the budget could be reduced by 1/3 while maintaining the troop levels, benefits and one of the high profile programs mentioned. The waste is that great. Highly paid consultants are under every rock, wasteful programs abound that everyone knows are gong nowhere, we provie military aid for criminal governments, costly illegal wars are lost and troops defend parts of the world that are now richer than us.

  189. Ducking is what Washington does, who knew. Special parochial interests rule, on everything. That is what our politics is all about. Sensible spending? Donors rule. A delusional idea if there ever was one. Believe in miracles is the only solution.

  190. We spend TRILLIONS of dollars on phony wars (only to assert that we are exceptional military superpower), another billions in treating wounded veterans but in scandalous ways, and still more billions to keep unneeded military bases in communities open just to pander to constituents in those communities so that a Red state Republican can keep his or her day job.

    The scandal that is brewing in the VA is a stark reminder that we cannot continue to engage in fruitless warmaking that leads to crippling VA medical and disability payments.

    It is a surprise bordering on miracle that this nation has not become bankrupt by all the needless expenditures on military and on wars.

  191. As you say, America's defenses "will remain the world's most formidable". You could have been more specific (see SIPRI, NBC News, OMB, etc.). At the 680 billion level we are spending more than the next ten countries combined. But the tone of this editorial is like a mild movie review. Perhaps some words like "excessive", "overkill", or "humongous" would have been in order. Yes, you are absolutely right, but where is your outrage?

  192. Today, the complaints filling the talk shows is the incredibly inept treatment of wounded Vets by the VA. These current issues began right after 9/11, today with more and more wounded soldiers surviving critical wounds the need is ever greater. In my opinion, if you are wounded in any US military engagement, however ill advised, you are entitled to unlimited treatment, its that simple.

    Office holders who benefit politically from starting wars, should resign immediately after they vote down benefit programs for Vets, no question.

    At the moment, it appears the current chat is developing only as another club to bash the POTUS, whether its his fault or not, not to help anyone other than those complaining.

  193. I don't really understand why cutting military compensation is a goal. We just had a bruising battle of providing health care to poor people and we want to raise the minimum wage. I guess if we want to cut military pensions and other veterans benefits, I'm OK with that, but we ought to pay an above market wage to the people in the military today.

    Here's a thought, though, if we really want to cut our costs let's end all our wars and stop sending troops to every corner of the world every time some group acts out.