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Karmadillo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 01:22 PM
Original message
Can we afford to cut the defense budget?
Edited on Sun Sep-14-03 01:31 PM by Karmadillo
As far as I know, Dennis Kucinich is the only Democrat suggesting cutting the defense budget is both reasonable and possible. This proposal tends to be met with a rolling of the eyes and a response that goes something like, "Well, what would you expect from Kucinich?" Well, Kucinich was right on the Patriot Act and he was right on the Iraq War Resolution. Maybe he's right again. Here's an article that goes into some detail how such cuts can be made.

http://slate.msn.com/id/2088277 /

The Military's Bloated Budget
It hasn't been this big in 50 years. Here's how to trim the fat.
By Fred Kaplan


This year, if all goes as President Bush plans, the United States will spend more money on the military than in any year since 1952, the peak of the Korean War.

Here are the stark numbers. The original defense budget for fiscal year 2004 was $400 billion. Bush's supplemental request for Iraq and Afghanistan, which he announced last Sunday on television, is $87 billion, for a total of $487 billion. Let's be conservative and deduct the $21 billion of the supplemental that's earmarked for civil reconstruction (even though the Defense Department is running the reconstruction). That leaves $466 billion.

By comparison, in constant 2004 dollars (adjusted for inflation), the U.S. defense budget in 1985, the peak of the Cold War and Ronald Reagan's rearmament, totaled $453 billion. That was $12 billion to $33 billion less than this year's budget (depending on whether you count reconstruction). In 1968, at the peak of the Vietnam War, the budget amounted to $428 billion. That's $38 billion to $59 billion below Bush's request for this year.

You have to go back more than 50 years, when 50,000 Americans were dying in the big muddy of Korea, to find a president spending more money on the militaryand even that year's budget, $497 billion in constant dollars, wasn't a lot more than what Bush is asking today.

These are parlous times, but are they that parlous? Do we really need to be spending quite so much money on the military?

more...
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maha Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 01:25 PM
Response to Original message
1. Roll back the tax cuts first,
Then turn Iraq over to a real international coalition asap, bring the boys home, then cut the defense budget.
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wtmusic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 01:42 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Agree...first things first
we're hard put to run the military on what it's got, less cutting it.
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diamondsoul Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 04:14 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. You're kidding me, right?
Do you really think we're "hard put" to run an efficient military on $400 Billion??

What nonsense! If the DoD were spending the funds the way they need to be spent, there wouldn't be a problem at all. You provide for your troops first, pay, basic equipment, housing. Move on up to vehicles, including combat vessels, within a reasonable range of what you need to function and have a small spare supply. Then you go on to munitions in general because that's where you'll spend the bulk of your budget.

Now here's the real ass-kicker, we're still doing weapons development for NO GOOD reason! Somebody want to tell me what in the bloody hell we need with more nuclear weapons?? Those vile devices don't just kill people in wars, they ruin entire generations lives for decades! It's despicable that our government would even consider using such a device, much less stockpiling the damned things like a kid gathers halloween candy, PLUS wanting to make MORE!

HELL yes we can cut the Defense budget, but first we have to teach these morons about responsible spending. Fer cripes sake, WE all know how to do it, and we're not supporting a military!
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LWolf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 04:37 PM
Response to Reply #1
10. Dennis on the tax cuts, Iraq, and the troops:
http://www.house.gov/apps/list/press/oh10_kucinich/0305...

When the tax cuts were enacted:

<snip>

Kucinich: Republican Tax Proposal Is Reckless And Harmful To The Economy

Today, the House of Representatives will consider another package of tax cuts that benefit the wealthy while do nothing to help our hurting economy. The plan, $550 billion dollars worth of tax cuts to the wealth, is reckless and harmful to our economy, stated Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich (D-OH) today.


on tax reform:

http://www.issues2000.org/2004/Dennis_Kucinich_Tax_Refo...

Voted NO on $99.5B economic stimulus: capital gains & income tax cuts.
Vote to pass a bill that would grant $99.5 billion in federal tax cuts in fiscal 2002, for businesses and individuals.
The bill would allow more individuals to receive immediate $300 refunds, and lower the capital gains tax rate from 20% to 18%.

Bill HR 3090 ; vote number 2001-404 on Oct 24, 2001

Voted NO on Tax Cut Package of $958B over 10 years.
Vote to pass a bill that would cut all income tax rates and make other tax cuts of $958.2 billion over 10 years. The bill would convert the five existing tax rate brackets, which range from 15 to 39.6 percent, to a system of four brackets with rates of 10 to 33 percent.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Thomas, R-CA; Bill HR 1836 ; vote number 2001-118 on May 16, 2001

Voted NO on eliminating the Estate Tax.
Vote to pass a bill that would gradually reduce revenue by $185.5 billion over 10 years with a repeal of the estate tax by 2011.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Dunn, R-WA; Bill HR 8 ; vote number 2001-84 on Apr 4, 2001

Voted NO on eliminating the "marriage penalty".
Vote on a bill that would reduce taxes for married couple by approximately $195 billion over 10 years by removing provisions that make taxes for married couples higher than those for two single people. The bill is identical to HR 6 that was passed by the House in February, 2000.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Archer, R-TX; Bill HR 4810 ; vote number 2000-392 on Jul 12, 2000

Voted NO on repealing the estate tax ("death tax").
Vote to pass a bill that would completely eliminate taxes on estates over a 10 year period at an estimated cost of $105 billion as well as $50 billion each year after the repeal of the tax is complete in 2010.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Dunn, R-WA; Bill HR 8 ; vote number 2000-254 on Jun 9, 2000

Voted NO on $46 billion in tax cuts for small business.
Provide an estimated $46 billion in tax cuts over five years. Raise the minimum wage by $1 an hour over two years. Reduce estate and gift taxes, grant a full deduction on health insurance for self-employed individuals, increase the deductible percentage of business meal expenses to 60 percent in 2002, and designate 15 renewal communities in urban rural areas.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Lazio, R-NY; Bill HR 3081 ; vote number 2000-41 on Mar 9, 2000

American People's Dividend: Give $300 to every person.
Kucinich adopted the Progressive Caucus Position Paper:

The Problem
President Bush argues that upper income people pay a larger share of the taxes, therefore they should get a larger tax cut. We disagree. These people have significantly benefited from the economic boom of the 1990s, while those in the bottom range of incomes have received little benefit. Its these folks that we must help. President Bushs plan is Reaganomics revisited and its fiscally irresponsible. Despite spending $1.6 trillion or more, the Presidents tax plan gives little to nothing for those with little income. In fact, anyone below 140% of the poverty line, will get a zero tax cut.
The Solution
The Progressive Caucus believes that tax relief must flow to those who need it the most, the working class and people with limited incomes. We have endorsed an idea called the American Peoples Dividend. Well give a dividend to every American, because every American is an equal shareholder in America. We estimate the total cost to be about $900 billion over 10 years. The plan will give to every person about a $300 refundable tax credit. A married couple with 3 children will receive $1500, $300 for each member of the family. This plan is simple, easy to administer, and progressive. The plan could provide an economic stimulus since it would put money in peoples pockets immediately. Unlike the Bush proposal, which reserves 40% of the tax benefits for the wealthiest 1% of the population, our proposal gives the wealthiest 1% exactly 1% of the tax relief. This makes the bulk of tax relief available for the bulk of the population. The American Peoples Dividend is payable every year the federal budget is in surplus.
Comparison of Progressive Tax Plan & Bushs Plan
The Wealthy The Low Income
Progressive Caucus American Peoples Dividend $300 $300
President Bushs Tax Cuts $$46,000 $0

Source: Progressive Caucus Press Release, "Tax Relief" 01-CPC2 on Feb 8, 2001

On what he'll do about the tax cuts as president:

http://www.mndaily.com/articles/2003/06/23/6113

Bushs tax cuts are a grab by powerful economic interests. That means cuts in services, education, housing, health care, veterans benefits. Ill cancel the tax cuts, Kucinich said. Bush will bankrupt this country and mortgage our future; were not creating jobs.

On international cooperation in Iraq and our troops:

http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/news/nation/...

Most of the candidates said they would vote to approve Bush's request for an additional $87 billion for Iraq, casting the vote as necessary to support American troops already in Iraq.


Kerry conditioned his support, saying Congress should not approve Bush's new request for an additional $87 billion for Iraq unless he agrees to raise taxes on the wealthy and shows a will to internationalize the effort there.


Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio said he would vote no. "The best way to support our troops is to bring them home," said Kucinich. "The U.N. in and the U.S. out!"


I do believe Dennis has already planned for what we need to successfully cut the pentagon budget!







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jody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 01:43 PM
Response to Original message
3. A better alternative is to make multinational corporations pay their
fair share of the budgets of the Departments of Defense, Commerce, State, etc. Our global misson has been twisted into protecting the global assets and interests of corporations and not the security of We the People.

The "one half per centers" who own 42% of our financial wealth and control every major US multinationl corporation pay only token taxes and let the working masses pay taxes and shed blood to protect their global interests. :puke:
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jiacinto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 01:44 PM
Response to Original message
4. No candidate (who hopes to win) is going to run on an
anti-military platform.
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salin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 04:04 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. you could be correct - but the Slate article
points out some very sane possible cuts.

Also the question that has never been asked - is what is the different in costs for the outsourcing in various expanded areas compared to what the costs had been when they had been in house (eg army corp of engineers vs brown and root)?

It is too bad we have been fed this line that we have to over spend on defense to be "strong" - and that oversight over that spending is percieved to be "soft on defense". No other area of the budget gets as light of a 'go over' in reading as defense.

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hippywife Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 05:51 PM
Response to Reply #4
15. That's why
Edited on Sun Sep-14-03 05:52 PM by hippywife
Dennis is making sure to include the fact that the pentagon can't account for $1.2 trillion in expenditures. Simply can't or won't match the money to what it was spent on. This going on while the Bush Admin fails to supply the troops with the supplies they need.

Also heard on NPR yesterday that due to the military buying up much of the available building supplies, they are causing wood to be in such short supply that home builders are taking it in the shorts. They negotiate a price to build the house and then have to build it for that price even tho prices of building suppies are doubling and tripling. Guess the admin saw one industry doing fairly well with the lower interest rates and had to nip that in the bud.

Yeah, they need another $87B. :eyes:
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durutti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 06:07 PM
Response to Reply #4
17. You're Right
Unfortunately.
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Lydia Leftcoast Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 06:25 PM
Response to Reply #4
18. Saying that the Department of Defense should
spend its money wisely, to take care of the troops' needs and the equipment needed for necessary operations, as opposed to wasting it on bloated weapons programs and immoral black ops, is not being "anti-military" any more than saying that telling parents that they should feed and clothe their children and not waste their money on fancy gadgets and hard drugs is being "anti-parent."

Politicians of both parties treat the Pentagon as a sacred cow. It's time we fed it what it needs to produce milk instead of fattening it up to the bursting point while the rest of the country's needs are neglected.
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Karmadillo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 09:51 PM
Response to Reply #4
20. Why is wanting to cut the defense budget "anti-military"? Both the Slate
and the American Prospect (post #11) articles go out of their way to note the proposed cuts have nothing to do with essential military functions. The Slate article specifically states:

"But there's plenty more in the military budget that does not have the slightest connection to any clear and present (or even murky and distant) danger."

Such proposals might be anti-defense industry welfare or anti-pandering, but they hardly seem anti-military.



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xJlM Donating Member (955 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 02:04 PM
Response to Original message
5. The election is over a year from now
By the time it gets here, who knows what the situation in Iraq will be like? Projections I've read about suggest that we're not going to be able to afford this within the next few months. Does anyone really think that red-ink Bush is going to cut back military spending, or worry about borrowing from our children's future to finance Mr. Jingo?
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G_j Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 03:58 PM
Response to Original message
6. can we afford THIS?
>>>> www.whereisthemoney.org


http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.co...

US / September 11 - Two Years On
Mystery shrouds Pentagon's extra funds

By Peter Spiegel in London and Marianne Brun-Rovet in Washington
Published: September 10 2003 18:19 | Last Updated: September 10 2003 18:19

In detailing its request for $87bn (?77bn, 55bn) to fund the "war on terrorism" for the forthcoming year, the White House budget office said this week that a vast majority of those funds - $51bn - would go directly to military operations in Iraq.

It noted that $800m of that spending would go to coalition members who cannot afford to deploy their own troops. An additional $300m would go to new life-saving body armour; and $140m to heavily armoured Humvees to protect its soldiers.
But apart from those few details, the
Bush administration has been tight-lipped about where the huge sums - which come on top of $62bn appropriated for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in April - are going. Because Iraq military efforts are being funded outside the normal appropriations process, in so-called "supplemental" or emergency spending bills, the funding does not go through the same rigorous congressional oversight to which normal Pentagon spending is subject annually.

As a result, the spending is difficult to track, leading to concerns among some members of Congress, and experts in Pentagon budgeting, about the Defence Department's accountability.
...more..


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leftofthedial Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 04:05 PM
Response to Original message
8. we can't afford not to
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ulysses Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 06:29 PM
Response to Reply #8
19. beat me to it.
It's as if Reagan's "bankrupt the Soviets" arms race turned into the beast (ok, already was the beast) that destroyed its creator.

Harper's, I think, had a good article a while back on how the neocons took their first opportunity after the Clinton administration to turn the US back toward a full militaristic attitude after all the talk of the "peace dividend".
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T Roosevelt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 04:56 PM
Response to Original message
11. American Prospect magazine has a great article on this
The Pentagon budget could be cut 25% without impact. Just some highlights:

<snip>

The Air Force, for example, is spending $70 billion to buy 295 F/A-22 Raptors -- a Cold War-era fighter plane that is behind schedule, over budget, plagued by technical problems and designed to take on sophisticated Soviet fighters rather than the modest regional fighter forces it is likely to encounter today. The Navy plans to buy 30 Virginia-class submarines for $74 billion, even though its current submarine fleet is the best in the world and has no perceivable enemy; moreover, many submarines are being retired before the end of their useful lives. The Army is spending more than $16 billion to purchase 650 Comanche helicopters, despite the fact that the average price for the helicopter has more than doubled, and that the Army has had to eliminate two of the helicopter's primary missions (transport and attack) since starting the program. This makes each Comanche a $30 million reconnaissance platform, a function that could easily be performed more cheaply and effectively by unmanned aerial vehicles such as the Predator. Finally, the Marines want to spend $46 billion to buy 458 V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft despite their high cost and continuing technical and safety problems, which have already resulted in the deaths of 23 Marines.

The Pentagon also overspends on its strategic nuclear forces and missile-defense programs. The Bush administration wishes to develop a new, smaller, low-yield nuclear weapon, the Bunker Buster, and continues to fund a Cold War nuclear arsenal and the nuclear-weapons complex necessary to maintain it. As a result, the defense budget for offensive nuclear forces exceeds $25 billion, and the nuclear-weapons labs are spending 50 percent more than they did on average during the Cold War.

The Pentagon is spending an additional $9 billion a year on a national missile-defense program to protect this country from the least likely threat to the homeland. And later this year, it will begin actual deployment of a ground-based national missile-defense system that has not been fully tested, relies on failed and immature technology, and could eventually cost $100 billion.

more
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G_j Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 05:39 PM
Response to Reply #11
13. good article
I found this quite disturbing WTF?

"The Pentagon also overspends on its strategic nuclear forces and missile-defense programs. The Bush administration wishes to develop a new, smaller, low-yield nuclear weapon, the Bunker Buster, and continues to fund a Cold War nuclear arsenal and the nuclear-weapons complex necessary to maintain it. As a result, the defense budget for offensive nuclear forces exceeds $25 billion, and the nuclear-weapons labs are spending 50 percent more than they did on average during the Cold War"

is there no end to the insanity?
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Karmadillo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-15-03 10:31 AM
Response to Reply #11
24. Excellent article. Strange how these facts never seem to make it into
discussions in the mainstream media. It's OK to talk about cutting Medicaid or Medicare or Social Security or other safety net programs, but the Defense budget remains taboo (and 25% of $400 billion or $487 billion is real money). So much for the free market of ideas.
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tokenlib Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 05:35 PM
Response to Original message
12. Sure we can afford to....
..but politically the politicians who are electable can't afford to have the balls to do it!!

The republicans have succeeded in brainwashing the public--to have a strong defense--we must throw bucket loads of money to the DOD. If we do not throw the money--we are weak and un-patriotic.

One of the terrible BIG LIES of the GOP. We need to see the defense contractors cut off the corporate welfare---but the politician and party that finally do the cutting, will have be a bit deceitful about the issue--until they get into office.

Cynical but true--IMHO!
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maggrwaggr Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 05:42 PM
Response to Original message
14. we spend .50 of every dollar spend in the WORLD on defense
So yeah, we could cut back "just a bit".

It's insane. It just shows how cowardly and fearful the American sheeple are that they think they need to spend HALF of all defense spending on earth for their "defense".

I'm not even that liberal. But the math speaks for itself.

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durutti Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 06:06 PM
Response to Original message
16. Does this question even need to be asked?
The military budget could safely be cut in half.

We have the most powerful military in the world. No country is a threat to us. We spend more than the next 20+ spenders combined on our military. We spend many time more than than Iraq and North Korea combined. We're surrounded by oceans and allies.

Yet we keep spending money on technologies designed to fight large national foes that no longer exist. We have troops in over 100 nations around the world. Furthermore, there's a great deal of bureaucratic waste in the Defense Department.

Opponents of this view will respond that we need a gargantuan military budget to fight the so-called "war on terror".

This view is really ridiculous, and demonstrates that the "war on terror" is in actuality nothing more than an ideological device to justify imperialism, just like the Cold War before it.

Osama bin Laden did not invade the United States. He did not mass armies on our shores. Any attempts to do so would be doomed to failure. All national militaries are inferior to our own; a makeshift military would be much more so.

Our incredibly powerful military didn't and couldn't prevent 9/11. The things that could have been done to prevent that tragedy could just as easily have been done by a country with no military at all.

Generally speaking, a military response to terrorism is morally and legally wrong, and tactically ineffective.

Domestic agencies like the Department of Transportation and Coast Guard can and should do the most to prevent acts of terrorism. In addition, the terrorist threat can be reduced by dramatically rethinking our foreign policy, by supporting international law and fostering international cooperation, by pursuing disarmament measures, and by seeking out and destroying the financial operations of terrorist groups.
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rustydog Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 09:52 PM
Response to Original message
21. We spend more on defense than all other nations COMBINED !
Yes, we can cut defense funding by billions and still outspend
every single nation on earth. combined.
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quaker bill Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-14-03 11:25 PM
Response to Original message
22. Yes we can
Our spending on military matters is out of control. It allows our leaders to consider unilateral action much too easily.

A couple of other thngs need to happen as well. We need to become better adjusted to the concept of being part of the world community rather than the leader of it.

That means you don't always get your way. Negotiation must replace extortion and threats of military destruction.

War and threats of war are not tools of diplomacy, they are the signs for failure of diplomacy.

If we could act with just a bit more humility (perhaps any would be a start) then cutting defense spending would be easier.

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Kolesar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-15-03 07:34 AM
Response to Original message
23. I think inflation is overstated, so today's DoD budget is even higher
Inflation indicies have progressively included luxury products over time. I would trust the indicies if they only included products like food staples and clothing. This was analyzed in "Your Money or Your Life" the 90s frugality classic. One of the authors names was Dominguez. I cannot remember her partner's name.

My deletions, I am sure we could find plenty more:
occupation of Germany
Star Wars/SDI
1/2 the ballistic missile subs
the operationally ineffective B-1B bomber
close many US bases
cut back on reliance on ineffective "citizen-soldier" reservists
delete the "School of the Americas", or whatever they call it now.
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