With the Bush wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has proposed a new budget that recognizes the realities of the current needs of the military establishment. Since we will no longer be fighting multi-front battles it makes sense to reduce the size of the military forces, focus on cutting wasteful programs, and direct scarce resources to modernization.
However, at Fox News any proposal advanced by President Obama or his administration must be immediately criticized as an attempt to weaken the nation and surrender it to our enemies. Consequently, when Hagel came forward to announce that our current Army “is larger than required to meet the demands of our defense strategy,” Fox reached out to war monger Dick Cheney to rebuke any effort to cut spending and reduce the deficit (something conservatives usually slobber over).
Cheney called into the Sean Hannity show with a predictable complaint that Obama’s budget would be “dangerous,” but he failed to demonstrate why. He simply asserted that Obama “would rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a strong military.” Of course, that also happens to be the position of most of the American people.
Currently approaching $700 billion dollars, the U.S. defense budget is greater than the combined military budgets of the next ten largest spenders. And even after making the proposed cuts, we will still be allocating more money to defense than China, Russia, the UK, Japan, France, and Saudi Arabia combined. Yet somehow Cheney and Hannity believe that this would make America more vulnerable, and that it would be unpatriotic to reduce expenditures. It should be noted that neither Hannity, nor Cheney, served in the military, but Hagel is a decorated veteran.
In addition to the obvious logic of cutting spending when we have the opportunity, it is a policy that is favored by most Americans. This is particularly apparent when compared to the public’s support for programs that benefit the needy. A majority of Americans (59%) favor maintaining spending on programs for the poor over deficit reduction. But when asked about maintaining defense spending, a majority (51%) would rather cut the deficit.
And if that weren’t enough, the right-wing sheds crocodile tears over the welfare of veterans who might be impacted by defense budget cuts, but they utterly ignore the fact that “900,000 veterans nationwide lived in households that relied on SNAP [food stamps] to provide food for their families.” The conservative mindset that pictures all food stamp recipients as lazy moochers cannot comprehend the fact that many veterans are beneficiaries as well.
In the discussion with Hannity, Cheney complained that those in the administration “act as though it’s like highway spending and you can turn it on and off.” What exactly does he mean by that? Is he saying that once defense spending is turned on it can never be turned off? Or that if turned off, no new spending could ever be allocated? Obviously that’s nonsense. It is like any other allocation in the budget. It is determined by need and available resources. And right now we need more resources directed to domestic highways and infrastructure than to foreign adventures in warfare.
That’s the reality based on rational defense analysis and the priorities of the American people who are footing the bill. But leave it to Fox News to take a hard-line militaristic stance that ignores the wishes of the people in order to attack the president they hate so fiercely.