Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I'm a Hawk, but come on Mr. President...

I really am a hawk. I can freely admit it. I believe the United States Armed Forces should be the best-equipped, best-trained military in the world, or at least those goals should be striven for. And I believe we should use our military to protect the nation at large and our interests (and citizens) around the globe when circumstances dictate its involvement.

Not only that, I was raised in Newport News, Virginia and worked for a time at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company (now just Newport News Shipbuilding). That's the company responsible for building and maintaining the Navy's nuclear aircraft carriers, along with many of its nuclear submarines. As such, I've known many people who work or have worked there, along with others whose livelihoods are closely linked to NNS.

Yesterday, President Obama was in Newport News, at NNS, and spoke to a crowd there about the consequences of the looming Sequester for the area:
“This work, along with hundreds of thousands of jobs, are currently in jeopardy because of politics in Washington,” the president told a crowd of several hundred at Newport News Shipbuilding, which employs 21,000 people in Virginia and is the state’s largest industrial employer. “These cuts are wrong. They’re not smart. They are not fair. They are a self-inflicted wound that doesn’t have to happen.”
So according to Obama, the Sequester jeopardizes "hundreds of thousands of jobs" and the entirety of the NNS business. Scary stuff. I don't want that, I don't want such pain inflicted on people I know. And given my inherent Hawkish-ness, I certainly don't want to see our Navy's abilities compromised to such an extent.

That's the play, the fear-mongering gambit on the part of the Administration. The idea is simple: people like me--conservative, capitalist hawks--will be outraged, will jump up and scream "No!" to the Sequester.

And truth be told, I don't much care for the cuts, as laid out right now. They could be done more effectively, smarter, with a better sense of fairness. But that doesn't make them wrong.

My friends at Cato are not, by and large, hawks like me. Still, their graphic on the consequences of these cuts for the military is worth sharing:

There's a lot of money going into the military budget; there has been for a long, long time. By and large, I'm okay with that. But there's plenty of waste in there, plenty of needless pork. And in comparison to other nations and to times past, the military budget will still be sufficient, following these cuts. In fact, I'd argue there is still room for more cutting (as is the case with the rest of the Federal Budget).

The idea that these limited cuts--or even much larger ones--currently on the table must lead to massive job losses in defense-related industries is fallacious. No doubt, there will be losses. But guess what? Some of those losses are probably needed. For instance, maybe the military will stop spending millions on diversity training. If that puts the people in that field out of work, so be it. It was nothing but pork, anyway. There are plenty of other wasteful programs that could follow suit, no doubt.

The President, and the Pentagon Brass, in suggesting that nuclear aircraft carriers will not get built or maintained, is being dishonest. The money is there for these things and he bloody well knows it. Ditto for many of the other non-military things he claims are in jeopardy because of the Sequester.

Federal spending IS OUT OF CONTROL. It has been for a while now, since before Obama took office. But his Administration kicked it up a notch, there's no way around it: five years in a row (and counting) of trillion-dollar deficits. And most of those were in spite of Republican obstructionism. Imagine what the debt scorecard would be if the Republicans had simply gone along with the President's agenda from day one. That is a scary thought, isn't it? We might have deficits of two trillion dollars a year.

The military, like every other federal bureaucracy, is bloated. It can afford these cuts and then some without surrendering any necessary capabilities or the general advantages it has over other militaries throughout the world and throughout our own history. The President's inability to admit this and his attempt to garner support with such fear-mongering rhetoric is shameful.

Cheers, all.

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