Defense

SPENDING OUT OF CONTROL

On January 17, 1961, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the 34th president of the U.S., a retired five star general, the commander who brought victory to the U.S. and Europe in WWII, warned the nation in his farewell address to beware of what he described as a threat to democratic government. He called it the military industrial complex, a formidable union of defense contractors and the armed forces. President Eisenhower said “in the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.”

Eisenhower was worried about the costs of an arms race with the Soviet Union, and the resources that it would take away from needed infrastructure like hospitals and schools. Eisenhower spoke as someone who had seen the horror and lingering sadness of war, saying that “we must learn how to compose differences not with arms, but with intellect and decent purpose”.

So here we are 56 years later and the top 100 U.S. military contractors had 2015 revenue of $381 BILLION. The total defense budget for 2015 was $589 billion, thus the contractors took home the lions share at 65%. The U.S. defense annual spending exceeds the COMBINED defense expenditures of the next nine countries, including Russia and China. Yet even with this lopsided spending, the rhetoric is about our woefully underfunded military. Trump in his first speech to Congress said “I am sending the Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the defense sequester, and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history”. He didn’t explain how he was going to pay for it but as we all know, he is not much of a detail man. And there in full support was Oregon’s 2nd district congressman, Greg Walden.

As an example of shear crazy, consider this recent discussion. Trump stated he wants to increase the U.S. navy fleet from 300 to 350 ships. Within the current fleet, the U.S. Navy has 11 aircraft carriers. By comparison, China has one, which it purchased as a half built hull from Russia in 1998. Russia itself has one, which is generally considered old and dilapidated. The U.S. Navy, apparently feeling totally inadequate and unprepared, would like to add three more carriers to the line-up. Their newest navy carrier delivered this year, the Gerald R. Ford, took ten years to build at a cost of $13 billion. Estimates for the three additional carriers are in the $40 billion a piece range.

If a Democrat wants to be tarred and feathered, all they have to do is make the smallest comment about military over-spending. Well get out the tar and feathers, because this Democrat is telling you military spending is totally out of control.