Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Defense Spending, Sacred Cows, and the Tea Party

AEI's Arthur Brooks, Heritage's Edwin Feulner, and Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol joined forces yesterday to write an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (full text at Heritage.org) basically saying in the discussion about where to cut deficits can't include a discussion about cutting our defense budget.

C'mon man! (for the reader(s) who watch ESPN's Sunday NFL Countdown)

Instead, they go after entitlements. "Cut them first!" they holler, "Or else!" Or else our trading lanes will be obstructed, our freedom threatend, lions, tigers, bears! Oh my! Now the op-ed actually raised the ire of a conservative (maybe libertarian is a better descriptor) blogger writing on the Economist.com's Democracy in America blog. W.W. out of Iowa City, IA (because repetition sells) responds and makes from very valid points. The most notable point that our current defense spending is greater then the spending by China, Britain, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Italy, South Korea, Brazil, Canada, and Australia combined. Surely there is some room to make cuts there.

Also, let's look at percentages. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities project that in FY2010 about 20% of tax receipts will go to pay for defense and security spending. This, by the way, is the same percentage as Social Security.

There is also the point to be made that President Obama didn't start two wars (one entirely justified, one less so) while cutting taxes. That's a tired point, but one we shouldn't forget.

I'm not saying we don't touch entitlements. There can be no sacred cows if we are legitimately going to get our budget deficit under control. My issue is the ridiculous attempt by these thought leaders of the conservative movement declaring one fifth of federal spending off limits for cuts. Ridiculous.

Closing note: W.W. critiques the WSJ op-ed and wonders if Tea Party activists will rally around this op-ed. He's hoping they don't. If you've read Matt Taibbi's piece in Rolling Stone (and I have) you are far less optimistic they won't.


Colin said...

FYI W.W. is Will Wilksonson, who blogs here and is definitely libertarian rather than conservative.

And yes, no serious conversation can be had about deficit reduction without defense being on the table.

As for Matt Taibbi, looking to him for insights on the Tea Party is like looking to Ann Coulter for analysis of Organizing for America.

Jason said...

Thanks for letting me know it's Will Wilkinson. Obviously, I disagree with Will a lot, but his tone (and his exchanges with Matt Steinglass) are always respectful and factual.