The disgusting bloodbath of rhetoric that's reigned supreme over U.S. politics the past six months is finally due for some progress on the key issue of the nation's finances. The Senate passed their first budget in four years, but there is still much ground to be ceded before compromise can be reached.
The U.S. needs to figure out its deal with the budget. The federal government needs to act. Uncertainty about the future hurts business and consumer confidence. Frankly, it shouldn't be too much to ask our elected officials to just do the job they get paid to do. Everyone else has to. So, as a millennial and a citizen, I'm throwing out an idea both Republicans and Democrats can agree on: cut defense spending.
Media has split the political landscape into a binary system: the Democrats love entitlements and Republicans hate taxes. But the fact of the matter remains that neither patty’s agenda matters one bit if the nation's fiscal house cannot be set in order.
The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) is one of the newest members of the right to support this idea. Even though Ryan and failed 2012 Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney campaigned to increase defense spending, Ryan's latest budget proposal actually accounts for $2.3 trillion less in defense spending (which Democrats otherwise continue to puke on). The fact that one of the biggest players in budgets politics is starting to budge on defense spending could signal real progress toward compromise. Ryan is also one of the top contenders for the 2016 GOP presidential bid, and his reputation as the party's "brain trust" should carry weight in coming toward cuts in defense spending.
Do not let the recent defense spending reduction, due to the sequester, fool you: the military-industrial complex is bloated off the government's dime and has been for a while. As I mentioned in a previous article, the U.S. has effectively spent more cash on defense since 9/11 than it did during the cold war. You know, the time when we built more than 30,000 nukes. We could completely forget about the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and still current military spending would surpass Cold war levels.
We are in an arms race with ourselves. The problem is we cannot afford it. While our international status requires an immense amount of resources, the reality is that the U.S. needs to make some of the so-called "tough choices" and acknowledge that we simply cannot afford our spending trajectory.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) is one of the few in his party who actually practices what he idealizes. He recently noted regarding the cuts: "It is time Republicans realize military spending is not immune to waste and fraud."
Further, the Senate's 4-year overdue budget signals Democrats like Patty Murray are willing to meet the likes of Senators Paul and Ryan. The Washington state Democrat announced in her plan a $240 billion reduction in military spending starting in 2015. This proposal would bring defense spending to much more manageable levels.
To ice the cake, even Independent Senator Bernie Sanders wants to see prompt cuts to over-sized defense spending. He follows similar logic as Rand Paul in a statement from 2011: "The ugly truth is that virtually all of the major defense contractors in this country for years have been engaged in systemic fraudulent behavior, while receiving hundreds of billions of dollars of taxpayer money," said Sanders. "With the country running a nearly $15 trillion national debt, my goal is to provide as much transparency as possible about what is happening with taxpayer money."