Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Green... More and Less

First... Jerry Holbert, from the usual source:

I liked that more for the light bulb than the Green jobs thang. 

And then there's this, a love note I received overnight from Gen. Mike Dunn:
AFA members, Congressional staff members, civic leaders, DOCA members, there is much news on activities in Washington – especially about the budget.  What strikes me is that to decipher much of it, one has to be almost an insider to understand the numbers.  Here is the simple version:

President Obama has directed the Department of Defense to cut $450B+ over 10 years starting with its FY13 budget.  [This will cut the base defense budget – and was part of the 2 Aug deficit reduction agreement with Congress.]  It looks like the cut will be laid into the budget on a more or less flat line basis, e.g. $45B per year.  The Air Force portion of that is not yet fully known, but if trends continue, it will be $11B - $13B per year – perhaps more.  Once again, this does not include wartime spending – which is still off-budget.

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is tasked to come up with $1.5 Trillion in cuts over 10 years.  If it fails, then an automatic cut kicks in which will cut $1.2 Trillion in spending.  Half of this must come from “national security” accounts – DOD, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Energy, and a bit from the State Department.  I estimate DOD’s share would be about $450B+.  This is in addition to the $450B+ in the paragraph above.

A few observations.  First, the $1.5 Trillion to be cut is only a cut in the growth in spending.  The federal budget is expected to grow – during the next 10 years – by about $12 Trillion by some estimates.  Thus a cut in the growth in government of $1.5 Trillion is only a cut of 12%.  At the end of 10 years, if nothing else is done, the US debt will still grow from about $15 Trillion to $25.5 Trillion.

Secondly, to take almost a trillion dollars out of defense spending in the next 10 years would call for draconian cuts.  It would gut many programs; throw tens of thousands of troops out of work; cause major force reductions; and necessitate closing bases.  Our allies would begin to question our commitments in both conventional and extended deterrence realms.  And … according to some experts result in a “new isolationism.”  I do not need to remind this group that defending our nation is job one for any government.  In fact, the Preamble to the Constitution says:  “… provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare … “ – and not the other way around.  And … base defense spending in the 2012 request amounts to 3.5% of GDP – almost a record post-WWII low.  In the aggregate, the defense budget is clearly an affordable investment.

Finally, DOD base defense funding in the FY12 request was $553B.  [The Senate Appropriations Committee has marked it to $513B.]  The Administration request for HHS was $893B – 1/3 of a Trillion more.  This gap is projected to double by 2014.  It is interesting to note that HHS spending was $47B in 1977 – just one-twentieth of what it is today.

For your consideration.

Michael M. Dunn
Air Force Association
I don't normally post these things in their entirety but this brief piece needs to be complete for the point to be made effectively.  I didn't know that half of the Select Committee failure mode "trigger cuts" were coming out of "national defense accounts," to include DHS and other agencies.  I thought ALL of the half of that 1.5 trillion were coming out of DoD's hide, based on the way the media are reporting this.  But you can bet DoD will bear the brunt of the cuts if the Select Committee fails its task.  The other thang that amazed me is the amount of money Health and Human Services gets.  I know all of THAT money ain't goin' into cancer research.

Related:  The Army announced an 8.6% troop reduction (50,000 heads) yesterday.

The House Armed Services Committee released analysis detailing the effect of the "trigger cuts" on the armed services.  That's some pretty scary stuff... but then again, it was meant to be.


  1. If you look at where the government is now spending the bulk of its money, it's four areas:

    Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Defense.

    We've constructed an armed-to-the-teeth nursing home, and we're running up a tab for the generations that follow us in order to do it.

    No cuts to any of these areas will be painless, to put it mildly, but the alternative doesn't bear thinking about.

  2. 50,000 troops is the same number we need to get out of Germany. I'm sure a NATO gomer can refuel our planes, ships, and tanks on the way to whatever war we start.

    I would say: bring the troops home from Germany, pay the enlisted men for four more years, or until they get a job (a pay that scales down each year to give them an incentive).

    The costs to keep one trooper in Germany is much higher than that troopers pay. Then too, the trooper will be spending his money in America instead of Europe.


  3. My first thought here was "and how does this help the job market?". But I understand that cuts need to be made in the government and those cuts are going to hurt. Yet, my simple mind asks why we would spend money on a new program to create jobs and then turn around and cut a program that will cause people to lose jobs. Please don't point out how blonde I am - it was just my thoughts.

    VW: coylou

  4. Love the light bulb joke. Cartoonists of the world, unite! One of your beloved icons is being taken away from you! What's next? No "swear words" because you might hurt Saturn's feelings?!?


  5. You're not blonde at all, Lou -- those are perfectly reasonable questions.

    I've been watching the DOD fan, waiting for the inevitable excrement to hit it. Looks like it's airborne.

    And, the light bulb is sadly funny.

  6. Barry: All valid points but there are other societies that have us in the cross-hairs and I'm thinkin' specifically of the Chinese. The irony is WE'RE financing their defense build-up.

    Anon: I think I've heard THAT song before...somewhere.

    Lou: What Moogie said.

    Jim: Yeah, I hear ya. It'll be harder to draw a CFL bulb above someone's head, won't it?

    Moogie: The excrement is indeed airborne and I'm NOT hopeful. At all.


Just be polite... that's all I ask.