South Carolina Lindsey Graham Thinks Cutting $60 Billion a Year Will Destroy the Military

Lindsey Graham (Source: U.S. Senate)

Lindsey Graham (Source: U.S. Senate)

Sequestration is not the way to handle the huge federal deficit. A scalpel to trim spending, with some departments taking more and some less is the way to go. However, Congress and the President cannot work together. When they made a raising the debt deal a year-and-a-half ago, sequestration was seen as a solution that neither side could live with so it would force them to compromise. Instead, sequestration has become a game of chicken. Both sides are facing each other down and neither is blinking. Forget the scalpel; the broadaxe is due to hit the budget in two weeks.

Sequestration involves a cut of $1.2 trillion dollars, spread over ten years. It is to be spread equally between military and social services. This means a lot of elderly, sick and children are going to be hurt by the cuts. The military will also take an 8% cut for the next ten years. This isn’t how to handle a huge deficit but there isn’t much choice now. Tax increases are nearly impossible to accomplish and an agreement on budget cuts is nearly as unattainable. This impasse forces sequestration to happen.

In the midst of this budget slashing are people like South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who opposes the military cuts because he sees pulling $60 billion a year out the military budget as gutting it. Here’s what Graham said recently to Fox’s Chris Wallace:

“[I]f you want to look at ways to find $1.2 trillion in savings over the next decade, look at Obamacare, don’t destroy the military and cut blindly across the board.”

Graham’s idea to eliminate Obamacare instead of other federal cuts is a reasonable point to argue from his perspective since he has been an opponent of it from the start. However, his suggestion that $60 billion a year in military cuts is going to “destroy” the military is absurd.

Taking a look at the last 20-plus years of the military budget shows that while military spending may be down 20% from the Cold War, it still is 50% higher than during the years around 2000. Coincidentally, that was the last time the budget was balanced.

Military spending was 4.71% of GDP in 2011. The figure is probably lower than that in 2013, but not by much. Take 10% from that, which is more than sequestration demands, and the military budget drops to 4.24% of GDP. That’s still higher than every year during the Bush administration through 2007 when we were fighting two wars. Prior to 2007, the first military budget with a higher percentage of the GDP is way back in 1992.

Currently, the United States spends more on the military than the next 13 nations combined. Actualy, it is almost 14 nations. Adding in Turkey’s military budget barely surpasses the United States’ by just a few billion. Those 13 nations in order of spending are China, Russia, United Kingdom, France, Japan, India, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, Australia and Canada. Cut 10% from the budget and the U.S. only beats the next 11 countries in military spending.

What happens if we get into a war with those next 11 countries, plus Australia and Canada? I guess we are doomed.

If there ever was a case to prove that the military-industrial complex that Dwight Eisenhower warned is true, this proves it.

What it also proves is that Lindsey Graham likes to exaggerate. Cutting $60 billion from the defense budget is not “going to destroy” the military. Once again, here is proof on why Washington can’t work together to develop real solutions. Graham is trying to posture himself as a hawk for the 2014 elections. When politics comes into play, the facts go out the window. Graham has joined the club of hyperbole. As long as he and others continue to play that game, there isn’t going to be a chance for plotting a reasonable course out of this deficit mess.

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