By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Senator Jeff Sessions (R) from Alabama addressed Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Dempsey on the ‘Myths of Defense Spending’ at a Senate Committee Meeting on the growing federal budget crisis and the President’s 2013 budget request. Sen. Sessions told the Secretary and the assembled Senators, officials, officers, and media that there are four common myths about defense spending and its effects on the federal budget.
Sen. Sessions said, “MYTH ONE: Defense spending is near an all-time high. The truth: During the War on Terror, it’s averaged about 4 percent of GDP, around half of the post-WWII average. Fifty years ago, national defense made up 48 percent of the budget, while entitlement spending accounted for 26 percent. Next year, entitlements will account for 60 percent and defense will amount to 19 percent of the overall budget.”
Sen. Sessions said that the second myth is: “We can balance our budget with steep cuts at the Pentagon. The truth: Over time, entitlement obligations will consume an ever-larger share of federal spending. In 2030, entitlement obligations will be as much as six times greater than defense spending, rising from there. Even eliminating defense in its entirety would not come close to balancing the budget.”
The third myth Sen. Sessions said is: “Defense spending has seen the fastest growth in our budget. The truth: While the Pentagon’s base budget has increased 10 percent since 2008 (3 years), non-defense discretionary spending increased 24 percent—not counting the stimulus—during just the first 2 years of the Obama presidency. Over the last three years, Medicaid has increased 37 percent. Spending at the Department of Education grew 70 percent over 2009–2011 compared to the previous three years. Food stamps have seen a 300 percent increase since 2001.”
The fourth myth: “The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been leading contributors to our deficit. The truth: While the War on Terror has imposed substantial costs, this year’s deficit alone—$1.3 trillion—equals the entire cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. War spending represents only 4 percent of total government outlays over the last ten years.”
“Every department, every agency, every part of government will have to experience reductions—including defense. But these decisions should be guided by an honest assessment of the facts. And the fact is that the only thing the president seems willing to significantly cut is defense. The rest of the budget will continue to surge wildly out of control. By the year 2030, nearly every penny of revenue the government receives will go to entitlement spending and interest payments,” Senator Sessions warned.
Sen. Sessions said that: “The Senate Democrat leadership is refusing, for the third straight year, to bring a budget plan to floor. Has the Senate Democrat majority forgotten the warning of Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, who told us the debt is the greatest threat to our national security? … But the president has submitted a budget plan that will continue the unsustainable course and increase our gross federal debt by another 75 percent over the next ten years—from about $15 trillion today to $26 trillion in 2022.”
Sen. Sessions said, “Defense is a core function of government and the continued dominance of our military deters threats and encourages peace.” “How will we be able to defend this country when we’re broke?”
The federal debt is $15.4 trillion and the 2012 budget deficit is $1.3 trillion.
Senator Jeff Sessions is the ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee. The Democratic Party has control of the United States Senate, thus Sen. Sessions is the ranking member of the minority party and not the Chairman of the Committee.
To read Senator Sessions comments in their entirety: