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An Op-Ed for MLTF by David Gespass
Editor's note: Some on the Left, most prominently former Democratic Party chair Howard Dean, have said that the automatic cuts of the sequester are the only way the military budget will ever be reduced, and that he therefore supports them. In this editorial written for the MLTF website, former NLG president David Gespass agrees with the sentiment, but argues that the cuts of the sequester will not big enough, or directed enough, to make the kind of difference we hope for.
The “sequester,” as has been well documented, was the Obama administration’s ingenious mechanism, which both parties and houses of Congress bought into, for insuring a rational budget deal. The idea was to require, in the absence of such a deal, uniform spending cuts for all but a specified few federal programs. Thus, the military budget, for example, will require the same percentage cuts in spending on the building of more tanks, for which we have no use, and the provision of food for the troops. The consequence, as we shall see, is that little is done to rein in out-of-control military appropriations while visiting significant hardship on GIs, veterans and civilian personnel.
The US military budget is clearly out of control. In 2012, the country spent $711 billion on the military. The next fourteen biggest military spenders, including a number of presumed U.S. allies and two countries, Germany and Japan, that are not supposed to have armies – China, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, Australia, Canada and Turkey – spent a total of $713 billion. Only Saudi Arabia, at 8.7%, spent as high a percentage of its gross domestic product as the U.S. at 4.7%.