by Laicie Heeley [contact information]
Debt, Deficits, & Defense: A Way Forward
House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), along with a bipartisan task force that includes Senior Policy Analyst Laicie Olson, announced the release of a new report that identifies nearly $1 Trillion in Pentagon budget savings that can be generated over the next ten years from realistic reductions in defense spending. The report was produced by the Sustainable Defense Task Force, a group convened in response to a request from Rep. Frank to explore options for reducing the defense budget’s contribution to the federal deficit without compromising the essential security of the United States.
“I do not believe after this [proposed plan] is circulated that people will be able to dismiss the argument that you can responsibly, and at no cost to America’s genuine security, make reductions of over a trillion dollars for what has been proposed for the military budget,” said Frank.
The report comes at a time when the federal deficit is drawing increasing attention from policymakers in Washington. President Obama has appointed a National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to look at long-term budgetary trends; the administration’s new National Security Strategy has argued that we need to “grow our economy and reduce our deficit” if we are to ensure continued U.S. strength and influence abroad; Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has spoken of eliminating unnecessary weapons systems and reducing overhead costs at the Pentagon; and key Congressional leaders are speaking of a bottom-up review of defense spending to look for potential cuts.
In making the case for substantial reductions, the report notes that further reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal and limits on the planned modernization of the nuclear weapons infrastructure could save approximately $140 billion over 10 years. When missile defense and space spending are also selectively curtailed, that number is increased to $194.5 billion.
The Sustainable Defense Task Force: Carl Conetta, Project on Defense Alternatives; Benjamin Friedman, Cato Institute; William D. Hartung, New America Foundation; Christopher Hellman, National Priorities Project; Heather Hurlburt, National Security Network; Charles Knight, Project on Defense Alternatives; Lawrence J. Korb, Center for American Progress; Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action; Laicie Olson, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation; Miriam Pemberton, Institute for Policy Studies; Laura Peterson, Taxpayers for Common Sense; Prasannan Parthasarathi, Boston College; Christopher Preble, Cato Institute; Winslow Wheeler, Center for Defense Information.
Laicie Heeley is Senior Policy Analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, where her work focuses on weapons proliferation, military spending and global security issues.