December 18, 2009

Would Republicans Filibuster a $626 Billion Defense Bill?

What? you may ask.

For a fleeting moment, something in us hopes.

Why would Senate Republicans try to block the Defense appropriations bill?

Might it be because of the strain of such a large appropriation on the federal budget?

$626 Billion in far more money than the contemplated health care reform spending of about $900 Billion over ten years (starting slowly in 2010 with new subsidies for state high-risk health insurance pools).

Any conservative could reasonably consider defense spending efficiency, yes?

How about during a time when the U.S. faces no enemy or rival in the world capable of credibly challenging our navy, air force, or land forces? How about considering we spend far more on defense as a portion of our total economy than any other developed nation?

If we spent 1/2 as much, we would could still overwhelm any current or likely foe.

The answer unfortunately is a Washington game, from the Republican party, which seems enamored of Washington games lately:

If the filibuster on the $626 billion defense bill had succeeded, Democrats would have had to scramble to find a way to fund the military operations, because a stopgap funding measure for the Pentagon will expire at midnight Friday. Such an effort to come up with another stopgap defense bill might have disrupted the very tight timeline on health care.

Imagine...just for a moment...a more sane world.

A world in which the Republican party filibustered the Defense appropriations bill because it is a massive, budget-destroying $626 BILLION DOLLARS!

Oh....we can only hope we'll have genuine conservatives in the Republican party again someday...

It seems most of the Senators in Washington calling themselves "Republicans" have little or no regard at all for the actual federal deficit, in spite of much repetitive rhetoric.

They want to have it both ways.

They want to talk restraint on Washington spending.

But they been spending America into crisis for years, with budget-busting defense appropriation after appropriation, where even canceling a single out-of-date jet fighter (F-22) that the Pentagon did not want, took a determined effort from the administration so that it was considered a significant victory....

We are in sad, sad shape.

What would put us into better shape?

Sizing defense spending down to proportion to the actual threats we face, instead of being ready to instantly fight a major war (what is "major" you may ask -- "major" is a situation where there is an actual hostile opponent that is fielding organized armies of hundreds of thousands of well-armed and trained troops supplemented by powerful naval and/or air forces that is seriously preparing to fight us; the last such major situation ended in the 1990s as the Warsaw Pact dissolved. The Iraq of 2003 was at most a medium-sized war).

We are ready to fight massive enemies not because there are any massive enemies anywhere in the world.

There are not.

We spend this much because it is profitable for military contractors and attracts votes in the current set of Senators and Representatives that represent these for-profit military contractors.

President Eisenhower, who was also Supreme Allied Commander during World War II, warned us about this -- the "military-industrial complex" -- but somehow his party, the Republican party, seems to have little regard for this wise and experienced conservative leader of the 1950s.

We need to bring troops home from around the world, reduce new weapons purchases, and focus more on intelligence and research, so as to increase our real basis of security.

(For perspective, it might help readers to know I was an avid supporter of Reagan (from 1975) and his massive defense spending, though I was not old enough to vote in a presidential election until 1984. I favored Reagan's military buildup, until Gorbachev began to clearly signal major change in 1986-1988. By 1988 it was clear that ideas and technology and information were changing the world, not military strength.)


  1. If Republicans serious are concerned about deficit spending they are going to have to stop urinating all over themselves everytime something comes across their desk with the words 'DEFNESE" on it.
    Waste is waste whether it's $900 toilet seats for military arcraft or money for a glorified gas stations in the sky.

    Yesterday on the evening news they had a story about the number of young kids who are ending up sleeping oh the streets and in abandoned houses because they have no where else to go.

    Probably 1 billion dollars would be enough to build shelters for all the homeless young kids across America.

    But of course, that will have to wait. We have to fund amother $30 billion dollars a year for Afghanistan remember, the war that's been going on for 8 years now and which General Mullen said this week "We are losing"

  2. We have the classic disease of an ageing empire: thinking we have more power in distant lands than we ever can short of the brief moment after all-out war.

    Afghans will determine their own future -- one way or the other -- and our influence will depend entirely on our conduct, the quality of our conduct. If we left soon, but acted with very good conduct, we'd have more influence than if we stayed for years and had overbearing conduct.

    I think "winning" would be if we conducted ourselves with great courtesy and principle, and hastened to leave any are were we are not wanted.