5. Many US Jobs Depend On Maintaining The Military Budget
The Department of Defense is a major employer in the US. Not only do the jobs of soldiers, sailors and airmen depend on the Department but those of many contractors. The Department of Defense claims to be responsible for the employment of over 1.3 million American service personnel on active duty, 742,000 civilians and 826,000 National Guard and Reservist personnel making it the largest employer in the US. Cuts to the military budget will put the livelihoods of all these people at risk.
It is not only a question of direct employment. The existence of military bases is often a boon to a local economy as the bases ensure a supply of high level specialists who will drive expenditure in the local economy, drive construction and see improvements in the commercial, retail and hospitality offer. Prior to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closing Plan Maryland estimated that their military presence generated an additional $16 billion within the state.
While the presence of a base can be beneficial to a local area the closing of a base can be catastrophic, seeing a reduction in the availability of jobs and investment in the local economy both by the government and by individuals.
The impact of the cuts that have already been proposed has totaled over one million jobs across the country in both the military in private sectors. This has already had an impact on GDP and further cuts would be nothing short of catastrophic. Many of these job losses have been in the manufacturing industry including small and medium businesses which will further impact on the ability of the US economy to compete globally, particularly with competitors such as India and China where labor is cheap.
4. Cuts To The Military Budget Will Not Result In Long Term Savings
Cutting the military is, to be brutally honest, an idiotic thing to do. Previous administrations have tried it only to find that the short term savings have led to long term pain.
After the end of the First World War the prevailing tide of isolationism led to a decrease in military spending and capability. Protected by the vast oceans of the Pacific and Atlantic it was thought that there was no need to spend money on a force that would never be used. Sadly this safety was no more than an illusion that was cruelly shattered when the Japanese launched a deadly attack on Pearl Harbor (see above). The US was unable to respond to the external threat as quickly and as comprehensively as it should have done because it had to spend time ramping up spending and capability. This pattern of spending reductions resulting in huge and rapid investment was to repeat itself during Korea, Vietnam, the 80s and 9/11.
It is important to remember that the rest of the world does not play by our rules, however much we might want them to. It may seem tempting to reduce military expenditure during times of peace but that is precisely when it is needed in order to ensure that we are not seen as an easy target. Saving money now only guarantees that we will need to spend more in the future. It is even more idiotic to decrease spending when we as a nation are vulnerable to attack as we are now.
3. Defense Is The Core Responsibility Of The Federal Government
No matter how much any administration may wish to reduce its defense budget the fact remains that defense is one of the main responsibilities of the federal government.
When the Founding Fathers came together to create the United States they reserved a huge number of responsibilities and prerogatives to the States and even to the people themselves. This was confirmed and codified in 1791 by the Tenth Amendment. Defense, however was specifically identified as one of the core responsibilities of the Federal Government in a number of ways. The Preamble states ‘We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity…’. This statement of intent is then expanded upon. Nine of the 17 prerogatives of Congress listed in Article I Section 8 of the Constitution deal with military obligations while Article II establishes the President as the Commander In Chief. In Article IV section 4 of the Constitution the Federal Government is explicitly obligated to protect the States of the Union from invasion while
In other words while the Federal Government may do certain things it absolutely MUST ensure that it maintains responsibility for defense. There is then, no constitutional support for reducing spending on defense at the expense of other activities not specifically required by the Constitution and it appears, therefore, somewhat ironic that there are calls to protect spending on entitlements and welfare while subjecting the defense budget to relentless cuts. The Founding Fathers were wise men who understood that the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness is only worth something when it can be protected from those who would seek to destroy it.