Pelosi Wrong on Defense Spending

Posted: Jan 29, 2010 8:30 AM
Guest post from James J. Carafano with the Heritage Foundation

POLITCO reported Wednesday that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wants to freeze defense spending too. “Everybody has to make a sacrifice,” the San Francisco Democrat said in an interview conducted as part of POLITICO’s “Inside Obama’s Washington” video series. “If you’re asking everybody else in the country who has an interaction with the federal government – and that means our states and cities and all the rest, too – to cut back, then I think we have to subject every federal dollar to the very harshest scrutiny.”

If the speaker were really concerned about fiscal responsibility, a dubious assumption, that might make sense except for a few points.

First, defense is not just another thing government funds. It is the first obligation of government cited in the Constitution. It is Washington’s job to “provide for the common defense.”

Second, we are a nation at war. Thus, the secretary would arbitrarily freeze defense spending even if that means our men and women would be denied the resources they need to make the nation safe and come back alive.

Third, the President is already cutting the core defense budget. That started with the FY2010 budget….and even if nothing is done Obama’s cuts to defense will grow in the out years. The Congressional Budget Office projects that the average Pentagon budget for the period covering fiscal years 2011 through 2028 will be $50 billion less in real dollars than its current estimate for this fiscal year. Obama is already cutting the defense budget, both in real dollar terms and as a percent of the economy. A freeze would mean a double cut for defense.

Where did madam speaker learn her math?

The Heritage Foundation has released a chart book examining the state of the U.S. military. If the speaker wants the real facts on defense spending she should look there.

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