Public perception may be that the sequestration cuts to the defense budget is about eliminating waste and inefficiency in the Department of Defense (DOD). In reality, sequestration will result in the loss of military capabilities.
Then-Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta acknowledged in a January press conference that of the Obama Administration’s $259 billion in cuts in its five-year defense budget reduction proposal—which does not include sequestration—only $60 billion would come from eliminating waste and inefficiency. In fact, the DOD has been taking steps to lessen waste and inefficiency going back to Secretary Bob Gates’s stewardship.
There no doubt is waste and inefficiency in the DOD. In fact, The Heritage Foundation in 2011 identified more than $70 billion in annual savings to the DOD.
What should these savings be used for? Heritage answers that it should be plowed back into the DOD to restore the military capabilities that are being lost by the Obama Administration’s defense budget reduction plan as well as sequestration. Specifically, the bulk of the money should be put into buying the next generation of weapons and equipment for the military, which will permit it to maintain a strong force structure and keep it at the cutting edge technologically.
Fiscal conservatives will point out, rightly, that the federal government still needs to get its budget house in order. However, defense spending is not the source of the problem. The source of the problem is health care and retirement entitlements.
Recently, The Heritage Foundation refined its long-term fiscal proposal, Saving the American Dream, to ensure that it achieves a balanced federal budget in 10 years despite congressional inaction in recent months to restrain overall federal spending. The plan maintains sufficient funding levels for defense—well in excess of the existing Obama Administration proposal, let alone sequestration levels—in order to restore necessaryU.S. military capabilities.
Saving the American Dream, along with the redirection of funds saved by efficiency measures with the DOD, demonstrates that it is possible for the federal government to get its spending habit under control while still maintaining a strong national defense. Adopting a federal fiscal policy based on Saving the American Dream is not just the sensible thing to do; it is necessary to preservingU.S. economic and military leadership.