Timothy P. Carney likes Alan Grayson's "The War is Making you Poor Act" which would carve out $159 billion dollars of pork from the defense budget, and give 90% of that money back to taxpayers, while using the remaining 10% to help trim the national debt. I like it, too. In fact, judging by the reactions around the web, it might be a semi-popular bi-partisan bill which would at once cut back the national debt and put more tax dollars in American's pockets. It would also help the American people understand just how much of the defense budget is in fact little more than a massive pork barrel.
Of course, plenty of politicians and pundits on the right and the left treat cuts in defense as unpatriotic or as a sign of weakness. The philosophy of limited government ends abruptly when it comes to national defense, even though there is little evidence that spending $700 billion dollars a year on defense will keep Americans any safer than spending $500 billion dollars. Even after $159 billion in cuts, our defense budget is badly overloaded with pork.
Currently, Americans provide defense for Europe and much of Asia, allowing Europeans to spend almost nothing on defense while spending lavish amounts on generous entitlements, leaving Americans to foot the bill. Why not put the tax dollars that go to protecting France and Germany back in Americans' pockets?
Each troop we send to Afghanistan costs the taxpayer $1 million dollars per year. That's $1 million dollars taken out of the U.S. economy and funneled overseas. How many jobs could we create in the private sector if more of those taxpayer dollars stayed here at home?
Nobody is suggesting we cut back the defense budget to dangerous levels. Obviously with non-state actors such as Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups still active, two wars in progress, and unstable enemies in North Korea and Iran, having a modern, well-equipped military is important and necessary. But just like with every other government program out there, throwing more and more money at it doesn't equal better results.
When it comes to reducing the national debt, we have to look at all the sacred cows of the federal budget, and defense is one of them. This interactive graph of the proposed 2011 federal budget should help illustrate the magnitude of the problem.