There are so many holes in this argument that it's going to take another post later in the day to point them all out. I just don't have enough time this morning.
Here are my comments, in-line with the article:
The Defense Rusts
Military Spending: Ronald Reagan won in 1980 in part by pledging to rebuild a military eviscerated by Jimmy Carter. Who'll challenge Hillary Clinton on the damage her co-president husband did to America's defenses?
Related Topics: Military & Defense | Budget & Tax Policy
After a Missouri Air National Guard F-15 came apart in early November, the Air Force grounded its fleet of 450 F-15Cs. At a time when Russia was resuming its long-range bomber patrols that it had curtailed after our victory in the Cold War, the Canadian air force volunteered its F-18s to patrol the skies over and near Alaska.
Gee, that was nice of them, since our early-warning radars have been protecting them for 60 years, and our shared borders have pretty much guaranteed their security for about 150 years.
We ought to be ashamed, just as we ought to worry that no presidential candidate has made an issue of a steady decline in military capability. The Democrats will say this is because we have spent too much on Iraq. Even if true, that's no reason to spend too little defending against other threats.
Our lack of capability is a direct legacy of the Clinton years. While President Bush has reversed Clinton's failure to confront America's enemies, he has not had time while fighting the war on terror to reverse the damage done to the military Clinton loathed.
Y'know - I love right-wing attacks on Clinton's lack of military action against al-Qaeda in the '90s. Every time he did do something, he was accused of "wagging the dog" and inventing a war to distract from the Republicans unecessary, partisan-fueled blow-job witch hunt.
As China builds and Russia rearms, we face other threats than just al-Qaida
During Operation Desert Storm, the active duty Army had 18 combat divisions. Clinton cut them down to 10 by 1994, roughly their size today. The number of tactical air wings in the Air Force fell from 37 at the time of Desert Storm to 20 on Clinton's watch. As the Heritage Foundation's Baker Spring puts it, we went on a "procurement holiday" in the '90s and the military is still paying for it.
18 combat divisions, eh? Lessee: 1 ID, 3 ID, 4 ID, 8 ID, 82 ABN, 101 ABN, 1 AD, 1 CAV were full-strength 3-brigade divisions. 2 ID, 5 ID, 6 ID, 7 ID, 9 ID, 10 MTN, 24 ID, 25 ID, 2 AD, 3 AD all had 2 or fewer brigades on active duty, with the rest rounded out by National Guard brigades. So only 8 of your 18 vaunted divisions were actually full-strength divisions. You also had under-manned separate brigades in Panama, FBGA, and FKKY that were equipped with older weapons and vehicles (except TF 1-70 AR). In fact the brigade at FBGA was still equipped with M60-series tanks and when they deployed to Desert Storm as a part of 24 ID, they had to go thru their M1-series new equipment training in Saudi Arabia. That was manning and mobilization plan was built by Reagan's Republican administration.
So simply comparing "18 divisions" to "10 divisions" is useless without comparing what's in those divisions....
Oh yeah, by the way, when VII Corps deployed to Desert Storm, they'd already been designated for inactivation. That's right - we were closing an entire corps on Bush I's watch: 2 Divisions, an ACR, an MI BDE, 3 ARTY BDEs, an ENG BDE, and a COSCOM, being closed because George Bush I's Republican administration wanted to close it.
In the first six years of the Clinton administration, Bush 41's budget projections for weapons procurement were slashed by $160 billion. For fiscal 2000, the Congressional Budget Office said $90 billion a year was needed to hold procurement steady. The Clinton procurement budget was a mere $55 billion. During the Reagan buildup (fiscal 1981-87), we spent an average of $131 billion on procurement.
Slashed per the plans of the QDR convened by Bush I in 1992. Slashed per the plans of Bush I after the fall of the Soviet Union.
Our defense budget was at a postwar high of 14.2% of GDP in 1953 during the Korean War, 9.5% in 1968 at the height of Vietnam and 6.8% in 1986 at the height of the Reagan buildup that doomed the evil empire. At the end of the first (and we hope last) Clinton presidency, we spent just 3% of GDP on defense.
Or was it possible that the defense budget was simply out-paced by the growth of GDP? After all, defense procurement plans are made 5-10 years in advance. If there's a plan to buy $50 billion in new equipment at a time when the GDP is $1 trillion (I'm using numbers designed to make the math easier), then we're spending 5% of the GDP on weapons. That $50b isn't going up without an act of Congress - y'know, all those Republicans in the Capitol in the '90s? But, when the tech sector takes off, and adds an unexpected $500b to the economy, your GDP is now $1.5t, but your defense expenditures didn't change because Congress didn't authorize them, and are still $50b. Without any changes in the plans for your national defense, your defense spending as a portion of the GDP went from 5% to 3.3%. Is that the President's fault? Isn't he supposed to try to boost the US economy as much as possible? Is it his fault that Congress is too busy teaching America about oral sex on C-Span to pass a defense budget that keeps pace with the rapid expansion of the US economy?
Because we didn't spend enough on defense and procurement during the Clinton years, it's going to be expensive to catch up. Because we're still spending too little on defense, the Air Force's original plans for 750 F-22 Raptors to replace the aging F-15 has been reduced to just 183.
Or maybe it's because the defense contractor originally low-balled the bid for the price of each F22, and as the costs have ballooned due to a variety of reasons - incompetent contract management, health care costs for employees, spreading subcontracts through as many Congressional districts as possible and therefore increasing logistics costs, inflation in costs of natural resources - the Air Force couldn't afford to buy any more. And the combination of a Republican President and a Republican Congress failed to authorize more money for the F22 at any time between 2001 and 2007.
MacKenzie Eaglen, senior policy analyst for national security at the Heritage Foundation, told Cybercast News Service:
"The U.S. Air Force has been engaged in continuous combat for the last 17 years with fewer airplanes today than in 1990 — only increasing their age more quickly. Moreover, current Air Force plans call for retiring two F-15s for every new F-22 brought into service."
See above for the issue of costs. And the "constant combat" - a plan developed by the Republican administration of Bush I, continued by Clinton, but begun under a Republican administration.
The politicians in Washington ponder sending checks to people to stimulate a sluggish economy. This money will probably be used to pay bills. But if it's spent at the mall, it will likely be spent on something made in China.
We suggest the money be spent on our manufacturing sector and durable goods made in America. You know, things like F-22 Raptors, M-1 Abrams tanks and Virginia-class attack submarines.
Probably the most intelligent thing in this entire column - don't bribe the people with a "rebate" that's only going to be used for political advertising fodder, and instead invest the money in things that matter to the nation.