THE BLOG
05/19/2011 04:25 pm ET | Updated Jul 19, 2011

Time to End Outdated Military Spending, Not Medicare

Today, the same politicians in the House of Representatives who claimed that tax cuts for the wealthy would "pay for themselves" are insisting we take them seriously as they try to balance the budget.

Their plan? To end Medicare as we know it, and other gimmicks like cutting basic health care for women.

Montanans and many Americans aren't buying what those politicians are trying to sell. There are better ways to cut government spending and cut the national debt, without stripping seniors and women of their health care.

A good place to start is taking a hard look at the huge amount of money America spends on military operations overseas -- especially on Cold War-era military bases in Europe and Asia.

The U.S. operates more than 1,000 military installations on foreign soil, including 268 in Germany, 124 in Japan and 87 in South Korea. Approximately 370,000 U.S. servicemen and women are currently deployed in more than 150 countries around the world.

Several generations after the defeat of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, the world has changed. And so have our armed forces.

The U.S. has the strongest, smartest, most effective military in the world, thanks to our dedicated troops and the cutting edge technology they employ. The days of America needing hundreds of military installations in dozens of countries across the entire world are over.

That's why I'm urging Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to save taxpayers money and consider closing down some of our bases overseas (you can read my letter to Secretary Gates HERE).

It's also why I'm backing a plan to require all future wars be paid for. Before I got to Congress, lawmakers charged the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to future generations. And that's a shame.

As Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently put it, the biggest threat to American national security is the rising national debt.

But before politicians in Washington try to cut spending by breaking the promises made to our seniors, we ought to be looking at ways to cut the number of unnecessary Cold War-era installations overseas while keeping our armed forces the strongest in the world.

Moving forward, we need a responsible, long-term, bipartisan strategy for cutting debt and cutting spending. That plan should include making Medicare and Social Security stronger for future generations. It should include fair tax reform. And it should include spending cuts -- including cuts to defense spending where we can afford them.

Montanans and all Americans -- and future generations -- deserve no less.