Opening a New Window on Military Budgets: Defense Secretary Gates’s FY 2010 Military Budget Proposal

April 9th, 2009 - by admin

Friends National Committee on Legislation – 2009-04-09 22:55:08

WASHINGTON (April 9, 2009) — Defense Secretary Robert Gates unveiled the details of a ground-breaking military budget proposal on Monday. His proposal would cut a number of unnecessary weapons programs while giving more money to support troops on the ground. It would reform Pentagon contracting practices, cut $9.6 billion in wasteful weapons spending, and improve health and family supports for military personnel and veterans.

Secretary Gate’s proposal is a large step in the right direction toward a more accountable military budget. We at FCNL hope that Congress supports the proposal, using it as a model to make further reductions to wasteful military spending in the near future.

Unfortunately, many members of Congress have already spoken out against Secretary Gates’s proposed cuts to the military budget. They claim that Gates’ cuts will compromise our national security and cause job loss in their districts.

These members of Congress need to face the realities of our current military budgeting system the military budget has more than doubled over the past eight years, growing by seven times the domestic discretionary budget . It’s time to stop piling up unnecessary funds in the military budget and redefine our budget priorities. Secretary Gates’ cuts are long overdue, and opposition to them is based on political factors, not real need.

It is true that discontinuing weapons systems will cause job loss in the short term, but unnecessary weapons manufacturing should not be considered a jobs program (that would be like spending billions of dollars digging holes), and research shows that these jobs can be successfully transferred to other sectors.

Defense contractors like Boeing and Lockheed Martin have enforced the jobs argument by spreading out the manufacturing process to as many states as possible. For example, parts for the F-22 Raptor are manufactured by 3 different military contractors in 46 different states and representatives of the contractors are active on the Hill, encouraging representatives and senators in these states to defend continued production.

The solution is not to continue manufacturing weapons that the U.S. no longer needs — we don’t employ people to produce cannon balls anymore but to fund job retraining programs that will transfer workers to other needed areas.

Defense Secretary Gates’ military budget proposal could be the start to new era of military budgeting. It sets the stage for serious examination of future Pentagon spending and demands more transparency and accountability in future military budgets.

Gates’ proposal does expand the role of troops on the ground, and we are concerned that the military will become more engaged in civilian functions. FCNL has maintained that more troops does not mean more peace and we have been lobbying in favor of civilian responses to violent conflict. Secretary Gate’s makes a much smaller reduction in the military budget than we think is reasonable.

The Unified Security Budget, produced by the Institute for Policy Studies, points to at least $60 billion that could be cut immediately , while Gate’s proposal only cuts $9.6 billion from weapons acquisition, and increases spending in other areas by $21.3 billion. Yet it is certainly a step in the right direction, signifying a more comprehensive approach to military budgeting, and new opportunity for FCNL to work with Congress and the administration on the reasons for military spending.