Good Huffington Post piece about how the defense industry is closing ranks to lobby against defense cuts. Apparently they’d much rather see cuts to Social Security and Medicare, but hey, who wouldn’t?
Significant budget cuts would undoubtedly require the Pentagon to dramatically reassess how it currently spends its money. But some critics say that wouldn’t be a bad thing.
The Pentagon has embarked on an unsustainable path of increased spending, with less and less to show for it, Wheeler said. And the primary culprit is new, expensive hardware.
“It’s not just that new hardware is more expensive, it’s that the new hardware is so expensive that we cannot afford to replace the inventory,” he said. “When you replace 600 $60 million dollar F-15s with 188 $400 million per-copy F-22s, you both shrink the force and you add to its costs,” he said.
The Pentagon has also dramatically increased its personnel costs — “not just on combat pay and enlistment and retention bonuses,” Wheeler said, but “on all sorts of political constituencies that were knocking on doors on Capitol Hill.”
“What we’ve been talking about here is a money party,” he said.
“Costs are always growing faster than budgets, and that creates a perpetual crisis,” said Chuck Spinney, a former military analyst for the Pentagon who criticized the budget process even when he was there. “And a budget crisis is good for business,” he said. “It creates extortionary pressure.”
But Spinney said legislators should resist any such pressure. For decades now, he pointed out, the Pentagon has been unable to audit its books and fully account for how it spends its money. Without that kind of information, Spinney said, “for Panetta to say this is going to cause a crisis is horse shit.”