Is it really a surprise that the governors of all 50 states are pushing back against President Obama’s push to cut their National Guard troops?
The difference between the Democratic President’s approach and that of Republicans like Senator Tom Coburn is the President wants to cut spending on military men and women’s salaries and benefits, while Coburn seeks to cut spending on jets and ships.
The President also wants to cut cost of living increases for retirees who served our country.
Yes, the Pentagon is facing $37 billion in cuts. So, what would be the best way to match those cuts? Reduce our fighting force and lay off well-trained troops during a time when terrorists continue to recruit and deploy their murderous forces around the world amid serious international threats from Iran, Russia and North Korea or reduce billions of dollars in questionable weapons programs?
Senator Coburn has one of the most consistently diligent teams digging through defense spending reports from the Government Accountability Office.
Every year, Sen. Coburn issues a report that too few people seem to read, especially those in Congress.
Before you and I explore some of the billions of dollars of real savings that can be achieved, let’s also recognize a couple of political realities. First, you’d be hard pressed to find a single congressional district in this country without a defense contractor who’ll yell and scream to the local TV station and newspaper about losing jobs if their member of congress suggests the product or service they provide is no longer needed, even if they make external access cards for dial-up modems (a modern day equivalent to the buggy whip).
Second, most Republicans are not as enthusiastic about cutting any military weapons spending as many Democrats are about laying off troops. They should be, but they’re not.
A quick and easy way to achieve $37 billion in savings is to simply end the F-35 Strike Fighter boondoggle. It’s years behind schedule, billions over budget and will likely cost one trillion dollars to fly and maintain each plane over its lifespan.
It’s also politically impossible to end the program outright, so Coburn’s team has proposed allowing the Navy and Marine Corps to purchase less expensive F/A-18 Super Hornet jets instead of making the F-35 the standard platform for every branch of the military, thereby saving $18 billion.
Do we really need 11 aircraft carriers? Many analysts say, “no.” Save $7 billion by reducing aircraft carriers from 11 to 10 and Navy Air Wings from 10 to 9.
Of course, beaching an aircraft carrier also means displacing a crew of about 5,000.
One of the more controversial ideas is closing Department of Defense elementary schools to save about 10 billion dollars.
26,000 students are taught by 2,300 teachers who are employees of the Department of Defense. Sadly, a report by the Center for Public Integrity stated, “Conditions are so bad (on military-run schools) that some educators at base schools envy the civilian schools off base, which admittedly have their own challenges.”
The problem with locking the doors on military elementary schools is putting that population pressure on some local school districts that don’t have enough classroom space. Building new schools would surely cost those taxpayers more than is being spent on the base schools.
There are billions more that can be saved by eliminating programs that simply duplicate other effective programs, but what congress critter wants to face angry people who lost a job?
Perhaps it is easier for Democrats to simply fire people, but there are obviously better ways to cut defense spending.
Rick Jensen is Delaware’s Award-Winning Conservative Talk Show Host on 1150AM WDEL and 93.7FM HD3, Streaming live on WDEL.com from 1pm - 4pm EST. Contact Rick at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @Jensen1150WDEL.