Paul Jacob

What Panetta and others decrying these supposedly “massive” cuts don’t bother to mention is anything about the actual numbers. The U.S. Government spent $711 billion on the military in 2011 — more than the next twelve nations combined.

The next closest are China and Russia. In 2011, China spent $143 billion on its military and Russia $72 billion. Yet, a number of recent media reports hype the fact that in coming years military spending in China and Russia may eclipse the U.S., when figured as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product. But China’s GDP is less than half of ours and Russia’s GDP compares at only 12 percent.

If, after sequestration, we become a second-rate power, it’s comforting to realize there would certainly be no first-rate powers ahead of us.

“So if you imagine for every dollar spent on militaries in the world, 40 cents of it is spent by the U.S. and roughly . . . another 45 cents of it is spent by our allies,” explains Peter W. Singer, a foreign policy expert at the Brookings Institution. “If sequestration happens, we go from spending about 40 cents out of every dollar to about 38 cents out of every dollar. So you decline, but not by this massive amount.”

Moreover, when it comes to national defense, cutting our dangerous deficit spending is the most important action we can take. As Admiral Mike Mullen, the former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, argues, “Our national debt is our biggest national security threat.”

Of course, there is still time before March 1 to avoid these cuts. Obama calls for a balanced approach by raising taxes and making other cuts — unlike the fix fashioned over New Year’s in which no cuts were made and only tax increases imposed.

This time, however, smart Republicans like Mr. Norquist and columnist Charles Krauthammer realize it is Mr. Obama who is squirming and they are warning their brethren not to cave to the president. “This is the one time Republicans can get cuts under an administration that has no intent of cutting anything,” Krauthammer wrote recently. “Get them while you can.”

Indeed, the GOP-controlled House has already passed legislation replacing the sequestration cuts with different but equivalent spending reductions. President Obama can choose which cuts he prefers.

Besides, he can console himself: even with these cuts, Obama can still go down in history as the nation’s all-time biggest deficit spender.      [references, citations]

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.