There is a necessary and comforting focus on cutting government spending here in DC. The orgy of excess over the past two years has caused that and obviously the biggest budgets attract the most attention. The Defense Department has a huge bullseye on it as deficit hawks join the usual doves in noting all the places to cut. That is not an alliance that ends up helping America’s security or our economy.
Most Americans believe we spend too little not too much on our security. While the enemies we have been fighting in the current war don’t possess major weapons of modern warfare, it would be a fatal mistake strategically to forget the other players on the global stage. Russia and China have every intention of making the superpower club a triumvirate and have been making major improvements to their abilities to project power and influence. And then you can add in nuclear powers India and Pakistan’s long-running beefs as well as the increasing likelihood of the Mullahs in Iran having the bomb.
Those threats alone ought to be justification enough for a robust defense budget, but there is another simpler reason much closer to home. The money we spend on security goes right into the hands of American workers. I spoke recently to a House Armed Services staffer familiar with the budget battles, and he said.
“Our economy is reeling and we can’t seem to generate any new jobs, yet we are seriously considering compromising our security and killing thousands of good-paying jobs. It’s madness. The F-35 program is a perfect example; it has hundreds of suppliers and tens of thousands of jobs in dozens of states. How does it help us to put them out of work and in the process make everyone less safe?”
The government does not exist as a jobs program, but when our national security and economic security both benefit we ought to pay attention. We shoveled insane amounts of “stimulus” cash out the door for non-existent shovel-ready projects or to weatherproof a few houses. Mostly we paid off political allies and enabled needed budgetary realities to be ignored. Failing to prepare for the real threats we face by moving people from good jobs to the unemployment line makes no fiscal or security sense.