To believe otherwise is to deny that many politicians are easily swayed by lobbyists. Defense lobbyists spend a lot of time on Capitol Hill at cocktail parties rubbing shoulders with politicians and urging them to put their special project in the Department of Defense budget. Defense contractors Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Raytheon spent a combined $33.4 million on lobbying in Washington last year, according to the Washington Post.
Only the few principled statesmen resist the pressure.
Senator Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and a bipartisan group of 7 senators thankfully have introduced the “Audit the Pentagon Act.” This would add pressure on the Pentagon to get its books in order by stalling the production of new weapons systems until the Pentagon can perform an audit.
President Dwight Eisenhower famously spoke out about the growing fusion between defense contractors and legislators in his 1961 farewell speech. He warned us that the weight of this combination could endanger our liberties and democratic processes. He We didn’t heed his warnings and we are now facing the consequences.
The U.S. unquestionably spends more on military than any other country in the world at $739.3 billion in 2011. That’s nearly half of all military spending on Earth. U.S. military spending has doubled over the past decade when adjusted for inflation. Believe it or not, the U.S. spends at least six times more than the next largest spender and more than the next ten nations combined.
How much is too much military spending? Many politicians refuse to accept that throwing more taxpayer dollars at the Pentagon won’t necessarily make us safer.
Some Republicans are outraged that President Obama is “cutting” the military budget. But don’t be fooled into thinking that Obama is fiscally responsible.
The reality is Obama isn’t cutting a dime out of the military budget. He is only cutting projected spending, not actual spending. Under Obama’s plan, military spending will still substantially increase over the next decade, just at a slightly slower rate than previously anticipated.
Only in Washington is a spending increase considered a “cut.”
Interestingly enough, President Obama beats President George W. Bush when it comes to military spending. Military spending, which averaged 3.9 percent of Gross Domestic Product under Bush, has increased to 4.9 percent under Obama. Candidate Obama criticizing Bush’s spending on overseas wars on the 2008 campaign trail now seems like a distant memory.
The biggest national security threat facing the United States is the escalating national debt. Republicans do not deserve to be taken seriously when they talk about tackling the debt crisis unless they are willing to cut “sacred cows.”
Julie Borowski is a Policy Analyst at FreedomWorks, an organization dedicated to lower taxes, less government, and more freedom. Her writings on economic policy have appeared in numerous newspapers and online outlets. She is on the Board of Advisors for the Coalition to Reduce Spending and she launched an independent YouTube channel called TokenLibertarianGirl in June 2011.
She was previously selected to be a Charles G. Koch Summer Fellow with the Institute for Humane Studies where she worked at the Center for Competitive Politics. Most recently, she was a government affairs associate at Americans for Tax Reform.
Julie has volunteered for political candidates in Kentucky and in her home state of Maryland. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Frostburg State University in May 2010 where she studied political science, economics and international studies. She is now located in Washington, D.C.