Submitted by the Libertarian Party
While the Libertarian Party strongly agrees with the need to downsize the U.S. military, the Obama plan recently announced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expands the military.
Both Democratic and Republican politicians routinely deceive taxpayers by portraying slight reductions in the growth of government as “cuts.”
When military spending cuts are involved, Republicans protest loudly, giving credence to the claim that the cuts are real.
Both Democrats and Republicans use these theatrics to disguise reckless government overspending — just as they did with the government “shutdown.”
“Elementary school arithmetic instructs us that if you grow spending at a slower rate — it still gets higher. It’s not a reduction; it’s an increase,” said Geoffrey J. Neale, chair of the Libertarian National Committee.
President Obama and Secretary Hagel propose creation of a new $26 billion “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative” (read: slush fund) while keeping the 2015 Pentagon budget at the same level as 2014. That’s an increase of $26 billion.
They also propose wiping out what’s left of the so-called “sequester,” thereby sheltering the military from automatic spending cuts.
Democrats and Republicans already gutted a good portion of the sequester in the December round of budget negotiations.
Now they want to both increase military spending and take away the minimal spending controls that are still in effect — while pretending they want to cut military spending.
The sequester cuts were agreed to in exchange for higher spending and higher government debt passed under the deceptively-named Budget Control Act of 2011. One more illustration that politicians’ promises for spending cuts equal spending increases.
They propose reducing the total employment of the Army, National Guard, Reserves, and Marine Corps by a mere 3.9 percent — while touting it as “shrinking the Army to its smallest size in 74 years.” This tiny reduction in personnel — if it ever happens — is not backed by cuts in spending. No cost savings. No real reduction.
They call for slowing down the growth in pay raises and the growth of tax-free housing allowances for military personnel.
The only slight reduction they offer is an increase in contributions they pay for insurance deductibles and co-pays. Overall, they propose higher government spending for military personnel.
They propose a series of domestic base closures which, again, are not backed by spending cuts. Any savings will not go to taxpayers but to spending in other areas of the military.
In all likelihood, there will be little to no savings at all from base closures as proposed by President Obama. Few, if any, bases will actually close because congressmen and senators will lobby intensely to keep them open in their home states. No base closure initiatives in the last 25 years have resulted in savings greater than $1–3 billion per year, and some resulted in no closings at all.
Given that the U.S. government spends more than $1 trillion for military purposes every year, such savings are trivial and will be used as an argument not to close any bases, as they were during the last round of attempted military base closings in 2005.
It appears the administration is more interested in provoking lawmakers to ensure bases stay open than in closing them and cutting costs — while pretending to downsize the U.S. military.
The Libertarian Party and its candidates aim to substantially downsize the U.S. military.
Libertarians are lining up to run for federal office in 2014 on a platform to cut military spending immediately by at least 60 percent, close a substantial number of overseas military bases, and bring troops home.
Specific Libertarian proposals to downsize the U.S. military include:
• Immediately withdraw all troops from Iraq and Afghanistan and bring them home to their families.
• Stay out of Syria, Ukraine, and every other foreign conflict.
• Close unneeded U.S. military bases and outposts in more than 130 countries around the world, and bring our troops home. First on the list are the massive deployments in Germany, Italy, South Korea, and Japan — countries that can fund their own military defense.
• Close at least half of the nation’s 4,402 domestic Department of Defense sites.
• Use 100 percent of operating cost savings to reduce the federal income tax, balance the federal budget, or both.
• Sell off all foreign and domestic real estate holdings of closed military bases and DoD sites while requiring that all proceeds be used to pay down existing government debt. None of it should pay for more government spending.
“Reducing and eliminating military bases in foreign countries will remove a major source of hostility towards the United States, reduce the threat of a terrorist attack, and reduce federal government debt by $300 billion,” Neale said.
“Cutting military spending by $600 billion every year will go a long way toward balancing the federal budget and ending the federal income tax,” he said. “This will give back $5,000 every year to each taxpaying family in the United States; stimulate investment in small businesses; and create millions of sustainable, private-sector jobs. Plenty of jobs for veterans and millions of others now out of work.”
Libertarian Party platform on National Defense:
“We support the maintenance of a sufficient military to defend the United States against aggression. The United States should both avoid entangling alliances and abandon its attempts to act as policeman for the world. We oppose any form of compulsory national service.”
“Hagel Says US Military Must Shrink to Face New Era,” Associated Press, Feb. 24, 2014.
“Military mystery: How many bases does the US have, anyway?” Occasional Planet, Jan. 24, 2011: http://www.occasionalplanet.org/2011/01/24/military-mystery-how-many-bases-does-the-us-have-anyway/.
“Base Structure Report: Fiscal Year 2007 Baseline,” Department of Defense
“Op-Ed: How many bases does U.S. have globally and what is their cost?” Digital Journal, Dec. 16, 2012: http://digitaljournal.com/article/339184.