There’s a big behind-the-scenes fight inside Republican circles about the military budget. GOP hawks are so concerned about the possibility of a sequester (automatic reductions in projected spending) that some of them are willing to capitulate to a tax hike.
Others are pursuing a more productive approach, as explained in this story. They want to cancel the defense sequester and replace the savings by restraining pay levels for federal bureaucrats.
This is an excellent idea since domestic programs are overwhelmingly to blame for America’s fiscal problems, and those programs employ hundreds of thousands of unnecessary and over-compensated bureaucrats.
Regardless of how that effort plays out, though, George Will explains in a new column that Republicans hawks can ease up on the overheated rhetoric. Simply stated, there is no risk to America’s military supremacy.
The U.S. defense budget is about 43 percent of the world’s total military spending — more than the combined defense spending of the next 17 nations, many of which are U.S. allies. Are Republicans really going to warn voters that America will be imperiled if the defense budget is cut 8 percent from projections over the next decade? In 2017, defense spending would still be more than that of the next 10 countries combined. Do Republicans think it is premature to withdraw as many as 7,000 troops from Europe two decades after the Soviet Union’s death? About 73,000 will remain, most of them in prosperous, pacific, largely unarmed and utterly unthreatened Germany. Why do so many remain? …GOP critics say that Obama’s proposed defense cuts will limit America’s ability to engage in troop-intensive nation-building. Most Americans probably say: Good. …Osama bin Laden and many other “high-value targets” are dead, the drone war is being waged more vigorously than ever, and Guantanamo is still open, so Republicans can hardly say that Obama has implemented dramatic and dangerous discontinuities regarding counterterrorism. …even with his proposed cuts, the defense budget would increase at about the rate of inflation through the next decade.
The last point is similar to something I wrote last year. Even with a sequester, defense outlays will climb by about $100 billion over the next 10 years.
And I very much agree with Will’s point about defending Germany, which is part of the broader discussion of why NATO still exists about 20 years after the Warsaw Pact dissolved.