I don’t pretend to be a defense specialist who knows exactly how many troops, missiles, and weapons systems are necessary to protect the nation. Neither do I know precisely how much fat there is in the military budget. As someone who always seeks to reduce excessive government spending, I remain open to cutting back anywhere, even in the military, if money is being spent unwisely. Yet the new proposed defense budget offered by Defense Secretary Hagel this past week has raised no small amount of concern; therefore, I must be concerned as well.
We are so accustomed to legislating and spending without any regard to constitutional limitations that it may be good to remember that military spending is absolutely constitutional. We have so much money currently being thrown around unconstitutionally by the federal government that we ought to at least pause before slashing indiscriminately the forces that ultimately keep us safe in a hostile world.
Is that world any less hostile today?
Yet we are now contemplating massive budget cuts that many say would cripple us militarily should we have to be in more than one place at a time. The new numbers would reduce our active army from 520,000 to 420,000 eventually, a level unseen since the Cold War began at the end of WWII. Is this really wise? The Marine Corps could drop from 192,000 to 175,000. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says those numbers are too low for us to be an effective fighting force. Yet a president who has shown no real interest in balancing a budget is bent on hacking back on this part of it:
What else? The pay increase for our troops would be slowed from 40% since 2001 down to 1%, housing budgets will go down, and commissaries will have to raise prices. Is this because our troops are living in too much luxury? Everyone knows that’s not the case. Yet they will bear the brunt of this cutback. I’m sure that will be a great morale booster as we seek to attract more soldiers:
Does the president think this can be done without anyone raising questions?
America’s status in the world already is suffering. Our influence is waning under this administration. How is this going to help?
So, the one clearly constitutional duty of government—protecting its citizens—takes a back seat to everything else the federal government finds more compelling?
I hope you will excuse me for questioning our priorities.