Bartlett: To Cut Budget Deficit, Cut Defense

In the The Fiscal Times, Bruce Bartlett takes a well deserved swipe at the neocon deficit hawks who refuse to even consider cutting anything in the department:

“Establishment conservatives love to talk about the need to cut government spending, but they always seem to find an excuse whenever there is a serious effort to actually do it. Last year, for example, they opposed cutting Medicare as part of health care reform. Now they are banding together to stop cuts in defense spending, which is a fifth of the federal budget, even as they also insist that the deficit is our most critical problem.

This hypocrisy was on full display on Oct. 4, as American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks, Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner, and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol penned a joint op-ed for the right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial page on why the defense budget should be totally off limits to budget cutters.

First, they claim the military is not the “true source of our fiscal woes.” No one is saying the defense budget is the sole source of the deficit, but the fact is that it has risen from 3 percent of the gross domestic product in fiscal year 2001 to 4.7 percent this year. That additional 1.7 percent of GDP amounts to $250 billion in spending — almost 20 percent of this year’s budget deficit. And according to a recent Congressional Research Service report, the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone accounted for 23 percent of the combined budget deficits between fiscal years 2003 and 2010.”

Born again deficit hawks are partisan hypocrites. Neocon deficit hawks are even worse, having been wrong about pretty much anything they’ve ever opined on. (If you bump into one, ask them what time it is — just to see if they can get anything right).  Many of the born again anti deficit folks were happy to pour trillions into a war of choice in Iraq, large unfunded tax cuts, and a huge entitlement program (like the prescription drug plan).

An interesting twist to the deficit debate is the media coverage of defense spending.It amounted to 69% of Total Federal Contract Spending, but received a tiny slice of news coverage from liberal New York Times, according to Pitch Interactive.

Note the bizarre juxtaposition: Domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush Treasury official Bruce Bartlett is suggesting we consider Defense Department cuts to help balance the budget, while in 2009 the New York Times hardly covered the DoD relative Health Care, Energy, Housing, etc.

As previously discussed, your prior concept of Left Right politics are no longer operative . . .


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This graphic zooms in on the coverage:
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The Left Right Paradigm is Over: Its You vs. Corporations (September 27th, 2010)

Neocons Talk Deficit but Won’t Budge on Defense Cuts
The Fiscal Times, October 08, 2010

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