News Center

March 1st, 2013

America can afford ‘sequester’ budget tightening

DES MOINES—Budget scare tactics displayed in Washington illustrate why people have lost faith in our government. President Obama and has cabinet members have fanned out across the country to scare the public by implying that core government services must be cut to comply with legislation curbing the growth of federal spending.

A video released today by the American Future Fund, “The End of the World,” showcases this absurd demagoguery by the Obama administration and many Democrats in Congress.

Budget cuts, as a result of a 2011 budget bill, kick in today: $85 billion in defense and non-defense reductions. The trim does not impact 70 percent of mandatory federal spending, including entitlements and interest payments. The so-called sequester does not even represent cuts in real dollars—it simply slows the growth of federal spending by 3 percent. This year’s federal budget (with the sequester) is still larger than last year’s outlays (3.553 trillion and $3.538 trillion, respectively).


“The President has been campaigning all over the country to assign blame,” Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said Thursday, singling out President Obama for proposing the sequester, decrying it and saying he would veto alternatives.

Grassley also blamed Senate Democrats for obstruction and political posturing.

“The House of Representatives twice passed alternative proposals. Senate Majority Leader [Harry Reid] has done nothing at all,” he said. “The scare tactics being used by the Obama administration are shameful.  Government agencies are in a position to trim the extras before essential services.”

Nonetheless, liberal elected officials will say or do nearly anything to avoid making tough spending choices and to remain buddies with establishment lobbyists. Unfortunately, even some conservatives are falling for the absurd claim that the Department of Defense cannot afford the sequester cuts. That’s not the case.

I have had the opportunity to serve in the military for 10 years. After completing U.S. Army Ranger School, I deployed as an infantry rifle platoon leader along the Afghan-Pakistani border. Sometimes veterans return home with a bad taste in their mouth and an axe to grind. I’m not one of those soldiers. My love of country and the U.S. Army grows everyday. I fondly look back to my experience leading soldiers in combat, bonding with the Afghan people, and leaving the Afghan Border Police in Paktya a better-trained unit.

During my time in the military I saw plenty of government waste. We have an outstanding military, but at the end of the day it’s another wasteful government department.

The Government Accountability Office conducted an audit two years ago that found $70 billion of waste within the Defense Department. In 2010, another GAO report found that the Defense Logistics Agency ordered 50 percent more equipment than was needed for the military. That equates to $7 billion of our tax dollars sitting in a warehouse collecting dust.

The Defense Department can also find cuts by eliminating duplication of effort. The military has purchased $18 billion worth of airborne electronic attack systems. These are much needed systems and should be a top priority. However, due to the sense of urgency the GAO found that all four military services were purchasing technology with “similar capabilities, resulting in potential duplication of efforts.”

Another prime example of waste is the military’s drone technology acquisition. Taxpayers will pay over $37 billion for unmanned drone systems by 2016. The GAO found that the Defense Department has considerable overlap and duplication within their drone portfolio. They went further to criticize the Pentagon by saying they do “not prioritize requirements, consider redundancies across proposed programs, or prioritize and analyze capability gaps in a consistent manner.” The Pentagon can and should purchase the tools it needs for our fighting men and women without wasting resources on duplicitous work.

We cannot place all the blame on the Pentagon. There is also the army of chicken hawk politicians who authorize more defense spending than the military requests and fund weapon systems the Pentagon doesn’t want in order to win favor with industry lobbyists.

Not only do these members on Capitol Hill want to secure votes, they also want to line their pockets. The Washington Post found that 19 members of the Senate Armed Services Committee held investments in the defense industry. These same individuals have a huge impact on awarding government contracts.

America has the greatest military in the world. But our military is not great because of the size of our budget. The American warfighter is what makes us the strongest nation in the world. Personal courage is one of the seven Army values we live by as soldiers. We have seen very little courage out of Washington, D.C. for fixing our spending crisis. We need our elected officials to put their service to country above their political ambitions and personal greed.


About the Author

Mark Lucas
Mark Lucas, an Army Ranger, is Americans for Prosperity’s Iowa State Director and served 10 years in the U.S. Army, most recently in Afghanistan.

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