Are Blue Dogs & Republicans willing to attack the deficit? Will they go after wasteful and unnecessary weapons systems? We'll know soon, but don't hold your breath.
Most Blue Dog Democrats and most Republicans in the House and Senate are big hypocrites. They claim allegiance to attacking the deficit but can never find their cutting scissors when the funding for the Department of Defense climbs up on the table.
Later this month, they will likely give another public demonstration of their hypocrisy.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, with the backing of President Obama and the help of a wide variety of citizen groups, may have won the tough fight to end production of the F-22 Raptor after "only" 187 of them got built. But both Gates and Obama have indicated they also want to cut funding for the proposed new presidential helicopter, an unneeded alternative engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, and at least some of the still-not-working-properly missile defense.
But they may not succeed with those cuts, because Blue Dog Democrats in the House, and the vast majority of Republican Senators and House members will vote for anything that is called military spending, no matter how outmoded, badly-working, or expensive. These hypocrites demand loudly that health care reforms "pay for themselves," while not even requiring that expensive weapons systems: (1) work properly; (2) have an actual opponent (since the Soviet Union's empire dissolved an entire generation ago!); (3) have passed the necessary experimental tests; (4) be connected to current defense strategy; or (5) be affordable.
In a big speech a couple weeks ago, President Obama took on the outmoded "Cold War" logic that still governs too much of Congressional military spending. In the words of the BostonHerald.com, Obama criticized "the entrenched lobbyists pushing weapons that even our military says it doesn't want," and laid into legislators who too often vote "to protect jobs back home building things we don't need (with) a cost we can't afford."
I totally agree. Indeed, why stop there, Mr. President? Why not close the hundreds and hundreds of overseas bases that project the image and reality of an American Empire throughout the world? Why not end the war in Iraq, and follow that up by ending the war in Afghanistan, too? Especially now that we know that the only ones still backing you on Afghanistan are Republican hawks, who will never vote for you anyway! And since we've already got 187 F-22s, giving us air superiority over the rest of the world, must we really build 2,400 new F-35s, at a low-ball projected cost of more than $100 million dollars apiece?
Hey, maybe we could even pay for Medicare for everyone, for a green jobs program to put America back to work while reducing global warming, and an anti-foreclosure project designed to keep everyone in their homes.
Now those are some audacious hopes.
Still, the immediate problem with cutting the military budget continues to be a Congress full of deficit hawks who fly away from any attempt to actually spend less than half the world's budget in arms. These hypocrites will flap their wings and squawk loudly at domestic expenditures; but if the funding is stamped "military," these birds know no oversight.
So I wish President Obama and Secretary Gates luck. I hope they win again, and are able to cut some more unnecessary, wasteful military spending. I won't, however, hold my breath.