Friday, October 26, 2012

Romney's Defense Proposals 'Mostly Bluster'

Romney's Defense Proposals -- More Troops, Bigger Navy -- 'Mostly Bluster'

Governor Romney  wants to spend 4 percent of America's GDP on the Pentagon – but he doesn't seem to know why. The number would be the same regardless of America's economic state or what our enemies are doing.

Meanwhile, Gordon Adams, who oversaw Pentagon budgets at the Office of Management and Budget under Clinton, has warned that spending at that level will further slow our economy by adding to the deficit.

But don't be deceived – there's a trick up the governor's sleeve.

According to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments Romney's desire to match Pentagon spending to 4 percent of our GDP would cost up to $2.3 trillion over eight years. To put that in perspective: last year we invested about $58 billion across all U.S. transportation improvements. Or to compare foreign policy tools: the annual budget for the entire State Department and USAID is about $50 billion. Either cost is about 1/45th the amount Governor Romney wants to invest in the military. And that doesn't count everything we spend on defense since nuclear weapons, for instance, are paid for by the Department of Energy, and war costs are not included in the Pentagon's base budget.

Where would that money go? The governor has been vague, but it appears that he would add about 100,000 troops to our armed forces – though he has not said what they would be used for. Nor has he mentioned any changes to Tricare, the health care system whose costs are eating up a vast portion of the Pentagon's budget.

Romney also wants to add more ships to our navy, building 15 a year instead of our current 9. Some naval expansion may make sense – but as usual, Romney doesn't indicate why he's doing it. If Russia is our main enemy, as he has said, well – their warm-water ports are pretty meager. He may be trying to inhibit China – they did just get their first aircraft carrier. But they currently lack the know-how to land planes on it.

In fact, Governor Romney's proposal is mostly bluster. He's actually likely to preside over the greatest post-Cold War drawdown in our nation's defense. That's because he hasn't had the character to fight his own party as they threaten $500 billion in additional cuts to the Pentagon.