Linda McMahon wrong to oppose military cuts
Published: Monday, October 22, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 22, 2012 21:10
The race for Connecticut’s open seat in the United States Senate continues to rage on. Once virtually tied, candidates Linda McMahon and Representative Chris Murphy are starting to separate in the polls. The three most recent polls all have Murphy leading his Republican opponent, by margins ranging from two to six points. This is likely due to his superior performance in the four senatorial debates and voters’ increasing awareness of where each candidate stands.
This campaign has been dominated by a few major issues, namely jobs and reproductive rights. But there are many other topics that have come up in the debates and campaign commercials that have not received as much attention. One of these is military spending, and on this issue, Linda McMahon could not be more wrong.
Linda McMahon supports increasing the government’s fiscal responsibility by cutting spending. That is by no means an outrageous proposal. With an annual deficit of over one trillion dollars, and a national debt that recently passed 16 trillion, it’s clear that we need to get our budget under control. But, as with any deficit reduction plan, the important stuff is in the details, and that’s where McMahon’s plan falls apart.
Specifically, McMahon has stated that she supports cutting federal spending by one percent, but would shield the defense budget from any cuts. This is an unreasonable promise to make, and would prove disastrous if actually followed through.
The defense budget makes up about nearly one-fourth of all federal spending, and takes up over fifty percent if only the discretionary budget is looked at. The discretionary budget is about 40 percent of the overall budget, and excludes entitlements such as Social Security. While deficit reduction almost surely needs to address entitlements, they are much more difficult to change, as citizens have been paying in to them their entire lives with the expectation of certain benefits. As it only includes the expenditures that Congress has greater control over, the discretionary budget is more useful when talking about how Congress can decrease federal spending.
Therefore, McMahon is proposing substantial cuts in federal spending, while refusing to even consider cuts in the area that takes up over half of the discretionary spending. To defend this extreme position, she frequently cites the need for a strong national defense. Unfortunately for her, this does not adequately support her plan.
It’s true that providing for national defense is one of the most important roles of government, however, we are currently spending far more than is necessary to protect ourselves from foreign enemies. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States currently spends $711 billion per year on its military. This makes up a whopping 41 percent of worldwide military spending. It also drastically exceeds the spending of any country that could be seen as our rival, let alone our enemy – China spends $143 billion per year on its military, and Russia only spends $72 billion. While there is some tension with these two countries, it is highly unlikely that we will go to war with either of them at any point in the near future. The other top ten military spenders are the United Kingdom, France, Japan, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany and Brazil. Each of these nations are either friendly with us or our close allies.
Further, it’s highly unlikely that we’ll be going to war with a country any time soon. Recent trends indicate that most of our future military conflicts will be with smaller, non-state actors. Our current levels of spending made sense during the Cold War, but are now one of the most prominent examples of government waste.
Congressman Murphy also supports reducing federal spending but is on the record saying that military spending should also be included. While this may lead to a reduction in military-related jobs in Connecticut, all spending cuts will inevitably lead to some pain, and we can’t keep running up the nation’s credit card for the sole purpose of maintaining jobs that are unnecessary for our national defense. Also, cuts in the Pentagon’s most expensive programs, like the F-35 jet with the trillion-dollar price tag, will affect other parts of the country more than Connecticut, which is also known for producing helicopters and submarines.
McMahon claims to be an independent thinker, but her unwillingness to support any cuts in military spending shows that she is simply embracing the Republican party line.