In case anyone has not heard through the propaganda machines posing as news organizations in this country, the new proposed White House budget proposes significant cuts to our military over the remainder of this decade and beyond.
This talk is just gaining momentum and disguises serious consequences for Hill Air force Base, Camp Williams and other areas of Federal spending in Utah. Rationalizations such as the lack of need for a land based military without major land based conflicts to fight roll off of editorial pens like so much Washington red ink.
In fact, new Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel just announced plans to shrink the United States military to its smallest force since before World War Two. Manpower reductions across the board as well as the elimination of the beloved A-10 attack aircraft would be included in the new budget.
Just as recently as February, then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned that reductions being discussed by the current administration could greatly compromise the overall security of the United States. In a matter of weeks it was goodbye Leon, hello Chuck. A New York Times article on the subject of reduction spending, left-leaning bias and all, can be found here:
Perhaps we should not take talk of reducing our military the wrong way.
After all, Putin’s renewed daring in the Ukraine and surrounding Soviet satellites has not given that much cause for concern, if you believe the press. President Obama is talking it out after all, and we all know that communist aggressors like Russia are plenty reasonable to talk to. No reason to think a display of force would ever be needed, just talk sanctions. The same thing goes for China. The fact that they are building a two million-man army, launching their first aircraft carriers in history and building over 1,000 nuclear submarines, a dedicated first-strike weapon, “for defense purposes” should just be seen by our military leaders as business as usual, right? And as we all have heard since the 2012 presidential debates, Bin Laden is dead and Al-Qaida is in retreat.
No need to be too concerned there either. Except for the reality of the events over the last twelve to eighteen months in Russia, China, Syria, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere.
The apparent facts and events lead us to believe that the globe is in as big a state of geopolitical turmoil as ever. Unfortunately, the feelings towards the United States overseas have not gotten pushed any further in a positive direction over the last five years. Our adversaries are many, and they do not rest.
The problem here at home is that the deficit is soaring and we are running out of money to fund anything at all.
Does our military budget need trimming? Absolutely, but so does the budget for nearly everything else.
How can we propose gutting the military and at the same time not identify equal or greater reductions to entitlement spending and pointless pork-barrel projects?
In this matter, both sides of the aisle share equal guilt. I attended a luncheon some years ago addressed by long standing U.S. Senator Bob Bennett who quipped that the only difference between a Republican and a Democrat was the type of program they chose to overspend on.
Finally, truth from the lips a of a Washington insider.
The imposing realities for the future of this country are that we will not be able to sustain our military at any level we choose. And that reality will inevitably trickle directly down into impactful actions on Hill Air Force Base and other government facilities in Utah.
The folks in northern Utah know how large of an economic engine Hill is. And we have already saved the facility from the chopping block once before by the timely actions of Senator Hatch and others. But we have some serious national budget issues to address and no one seems to have the political will to address them with equanimity or resolve. And that will hit home eventually right here in Utah.
Each session of Congress just kicks the can a bit further down the road. Real solutions need to be reached.
These solutions will not be easy because the accountants knife must cut everywhere across the board. And no matter where the budget office’s attention is turned, there will be a political uprising to object. Federal spending has become a huge part of our economy. The government statistically accounts for 8% of jobs in this country.
But government jobs often pay slightly better than private sector jobs and almost always include greater benefits. The official federal government payroll closes in on 10% of all wages. Factor in state and local payrolls and the public sector accounts for over 22% of non-farm employment payroll in this country, and these numbers are likely conservative.
No need to speculate that everyone will vigorously defend their slice of the pie against possible reductions in spending.
It is obvious we cannot continue to spend at the deficit levels we are currently experiencing. But when the cuts come, they will have to come from every direction. And with the negative effect on real jobs and real lives, they will have to make sense.
In fact, a quick internet search of “unwanted military spending” will bring up article after article describing ear marks, pork-barrel boondoggles and other items that are just sending defense dollars into unknown and unwanted black holes. Call it Solyndra military style. How difficult would it be to axe projects the military does not want and keep facilities it values, such as Hill Air Force Base?
We have to wake up and smell the burning gunpowder.
Military spending cannot be maintained at current levels forever. But could we be spending less and getting more out of our military? Take a guess at that one.
However, military reductions do not make sense and seem over-politicized if they are not proposed in conjunction with broad and comprehensive budget reform. With entitlements growing and military shrinking, it becomes painfully obvious that irresponsible partisan politics are trumping actions that would actually ensure our long-term stability.
We need to fasten our sights on responsible federal budgeting, and that will bring reductions on many levels. If we do not take decisive and widespread action soon, we may reach a point where the clock simply runs out on deficit spending altogether and places like Hill Air Force Base will be no more. And that in itself may be even more threatening than the rise of any foreign adversary.