Cutting “Defense” spending: A more detailed look at the budget cuts
Here, I go into further detail into the rationale behind the specific cuts outlined in my previous post: http://rolexian.wordpress.com/2010/09/12/my-plan-for-reducing-the-federal-budget-deficit/
Cut DOD spending to 2001-levels: Over ten years, this saves about $1.6 trillion. We had the intel to stop September 11th; we just did not act on it. Throwing more money at the problem isn’t going to do anything. This country isn’t any less or any more safe than it was back in 2001… To get this figure, I used the 534 billion in DOD spending we have this year, and compared to the inflation-adjusted 384 billion we spent in 2001. This does not count spending on Afghanistan and Iraq (overseas contingency operations).
Close down 3/4ths of 865 non-Iraq/Afghanistan/Germany foreign-based military bases: Already cut 20% in the baseline military cuts, closing down 75% of these bases saves us another $900 billion. Are we seriously worried about Germany, Japan, or Uganda causing us problems in the future? How about any European, South Asian, or African nation? Honestly, all the bases should be closed… Cost calculated from 250 billion/year used for all foreign bases; took 180 Iraq and Afghanistan bases and gave them a 2.0x weighting. Subtracted that number from 250 billion, assumed a 1% increase/year (on top of inflation) to get final cost over ten years…Number assumes that DOD spending has already been cut to 2001 levels and then cut another 15% (see below).
Cut DOD domestic spending an extra 15%: This saves about 487 billion over ten years. Our military is one of the more bloated sections of government…Could cut this another 10-30% and the defense of this country would still be overdone.
Cut “overseas contingency operations” (i.e. overseas spending) 50%: This nets about 572 billion in savings over ten years. Basically cut down operations in bases that are not closed down, as well as cut activity in Iraq and Afghanistan…I am of the opinion that this should be closer to 90%….This number assumes that the troops will be brought home soon.
Bring troops home soon: 280 billion over ten years is saved doing this. Current projection would have our spending in Afghanistan (mostly) and Iraq much higher than this over ten years; this is a very conservative estimate of how much would be saved. Assumes war in Iraq is ended and troops are redeployed in Afghanistan.
Cut foreign aid: This saves about 218 billion over ten years. Why should we stick our hands in the affairs of others? It is one thing when it is a tsunami, an earthquake, etc….then, the US can join in with so many other nations and give financial aid. But the over 25 billion/year spent on foreign aid isn’t going towards fixing major disasters! Also, if we make other countries dependent on our aid, we are effectively preventing them from finding “in-house” solutions to their problems. This number includes aid to Israel and Palestine.
Redeploy troops in Iraq in Afghanistan: This saves 206 billion over ten years. Obama has proposed this; close down Iraq and move troops to Afghanistan. Not much is saved on solider costs, but a lot is saved on maintenance costs. Obama has called for an increase in troop numbers if Afghanistan, which will cost some 270 billion over ten years. However, if the war in Iraq is ended, and those troops are moved to Afghanistan, much of that cost evaporates (probably will wipe out all of that 270 billion, but we are being conservative here). This is a very sensible proposal if the war in Iraq is ended…why round up more troops when there are some waiting in the wings? Of course, a continued offense in Iraq negates this option. If Obama and Congress then go forward with the troop increase in Afghanistan, the cost will be 270 billion over ten years.
Close other 43 bases in Germany: These are not closed by the earlier closing of 75% of foreign bases. No reason to fear Germany any longer. This totals about 102 billion in savings over ten years.
Monetize 3/4ths of foreign-based military bases: If assets from the closed bases (valued at 127 billion are sold off), 92 billion can potentially be earned from them. This is, of course, a very rough estimate and assumes that the value of the assets is equally divided between bases. This of course does not included “fungible” assets (tanks, planes, etc.).
End Army’s Modernization Program: While the program is useful, it is not so efficient. They continually fail to meet their goals; seems like a way for defense contractors to milk money from the government. Doing this saves about 50 billion over ten years. Cuts specifically money allocated to ”future combat systems”…
Cancel stealth fighters: Come on, we have enough stealth fighters. Is having more necessary to keep our country safe? This saves about 38 billion over ten years. Cuts specifically money allocated to the “joint strike fighter” program.
End Spending on Missile Defense: This is how much we spend on dumping our nuclear weapons….and then buying new ones (from defense contractors, of course). This saves about 10 billion over ten years. This includes all spending on disposing nuclear weapons. However, sometimes disposal may actually be necessary (although with the “lifespan” of a nuke, it must be a rare event); this number does not factor that into account.
Close Ramstein Air Base: This is the most expensive domestic airbase. Definitely worth doing, since it saves about 10 billion over ten years. This cut is in addition to any cuts made in DOD spending.
Replace some military with civilians: This is a vague cut. I read in a Fox News article that doing this, just domestically, can save some money, figuring to about 9 billion over ten years.
Cut 40% of Veteran Affairs overpayments: Saves about 5.3 billion over ten years; this includes overpayments in the pension and other compensation programs.
Cut 40% of Defense overpayments and saves 3.7 billion over ten years: Admittedly, cutting overpayments is much easier said than done; however, we must demand higher efficiency from our government.
Monetize assets from Ramstein Air Base: Nets about 3.3 billion; the rationale behind this is similar to the rationale behind the monetization of the other foreign bases.
End war in Iraq: This saves nothing, as Obama has already called for this and it is already factored into the budget (as well other foreign spending). Otherwise, this war would cost 760 billion/ten years (and, I believe that is a very generous estimate), plus the cost of the new troops now needed in Afghanistan. Even though this is already part of the current budget, I wanted to bring this up to show how costly war is in financial terms.
Increase military research in universities: This costs 11 billion over ten years. Probably an optimistic number, but university-research much more efficient then research conducted by departments of the military.
Increase military funding: Once again, to be conservative in how much will be saved, I give 200 billion over ten years to the military to make up for any cuts made to “necessary” expenditures.
In total, about 4.43 trillion is saved over ten years with these modifications to the budget. That is about 47% of total defense spending (total defense spending in these calculations omits spending by the department of homeland security, defense-related spending by NSF/NASA, defense-related spending by the department of energy, foreign arms sales, and various other miscellaneous costs).