Wednesday, February 24, 2010

We Can't Balance the Budget without cutting Overseas Military Expenditures

The U.S. government is facing annual trillion dollar plus budget deficits as far as the eye can see. Economists warn that in 10 short years interest payments on the debt will consume a whopping 80% of all federal tax revenue. This is not sustainable. Long before we reach that point, the U.S. government will have to devalue the dollar and/or default on the debt, making us all poorer in the process.

There are plenty of ways to squeeze money out of domestic programs. We don't need 29 federal welfare programs. We don't need the departments of Education, Agriculture, Labor, or Commerce. Does anyone know what the Commerce Department does anyway??? The poorly managed Post Office loses $5 billion a quarter. It should be privatized. We need to take a hard look at all domestic spending.

However, one fact is becoming increasingly clear -- it is not possible to balance the federal budget without reducing the size of our overseas military expenditures.

Our current global defense posture is a relic of the Cold War. The Cold War ended more than 20 years ago when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1989. Maintaining Cold War era defense programs and commitments detracts us from meeting the actual threats that we face today. It is also heavily contributing to our enormous annual budget deficits.

Unfortunately, reform will be very difficult. Here's why: the GOP's electoral coalition was largely built around defending us from the communists. So, the GOP is going to be very hesitant to make any changes that could jeopardize that coalition.

After the Soviet Union fell in 1989, a few people on the right like Pat Buchanan started making noises about bringing the troops home from Europe and Japan. This scared the heck out of the GOP establishment, especially the neo-conservatives. So, they started beating the drums against so-called "Red" China (which in many ways is actually more capitalistic than the U.S. is today)

The sad fact is that 9/11 saved the neo-conservatives and the Cold War coalition because they could stand up and say: "see, the world is still a dangerous place and you need us to protect you".

Fortunately, people are starting to wake up to the fact that al Queda is not a country that we can invade and subdue, like we did to Germany and Japan during World War II. Instead, al Queda is a roaming band of bad guys who can easily pack up their things and move elsewhere. We invade Afghanistan so they move to Pakistan. We invade Pakistan and then they go to Yemen. If we invaded Yemen, they would high tail it to Somalia. On and on...

The so-called "war on terror" is a prescription for endless war, growing government power at home, and a mounting pile of debt that will quickly bankrupt the country.

Think about this real hard: Does it make sense for us to borrow money from the Europeans to protect the Europeans? Does it make sense for us to borrow money from the Saudis to protect the Saudis?? Does it make sense for us to borrow money from the Chinese to protect Asia from the Chinese??? This is exactly what we are doing. It's insane.

It's time to bring the troops home from Europe and Japan. The European Union collectively has a higher GDP than does the U.S. Japan is the second largest national economy in the world behind the U.S. (China will likely pass Japan this year.) These are rich countries who are more than capable of defending themselves. So why are we borrowing money to subsidize their defense???

If the Saudis want us to protect them and their oil fields, let's have a national debate on whether or not we should. If we do, then the Saudis can pay us with free oil to keep them safe.

It's also time to find a better way to protect ourselves from the terrorists than costly foreign wars without end. A good place to start would be to reform the failed Border Patrol and the TSA to reduce the chances of another attack at home.

The rapidly mounting debt should be a huge wake up call for all Americans. Obama's measly little spending freeze on discretionary domestic programs won't do a thing to solve the problem. The GOP doesn't even have a plan. If and when they come up with one, it likely will not contain any serious assessment of our costly overseas military commitments. That's a big problem for our future.

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