By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Since World War II, U.S. military doctrine has been that the U.S. should have the capability to fight two wars in separate parts of the globe at the same time. That philosophy has been jettisoned by President Barack H. Obama’s (D) administration which has preferred cutting defense spending to addressing runaway spending on entitlements or an ever expanding federal regulatory state that increasingly regulates more and more of what Americans do in their economic lives. On Friday Congresswoman Martha Roby (R) from Montgomery commented on the latest round of proposed cuts in America’s defense capabilities and how that will impact Alabama’s Second Congressional District.
Representative Roby said in a written statement, “Last week, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel previewed some significant changes coming for our nation’s military. Though the details won’t be public until President Obama releases his proposed budget, we know the size and scope of our Armed Forces will be greatly reduced. In fact, under the President’s proposal, the Army would shrink to its pre-World War II size.”
Rep. Roby said, “Any changes to our Armed Forces should reflect national priorities, not budgetary or political circumstances. The United States must first decide what is required to protect this country and its interests, and then budget accordingly. I fear we are doing the opposite, letting limited funding dictate strategic decisions.”
The conservative Congresswoman said, “I opposed the Budget Control Act of 2011 was because of the way the bill cut a disproportional amount from defense relative to other areas of the budget. The sequestration cuts imposed by that law took 50 percent from the military when defense spending represents only 20 percent of the federal budget.”
Rep. Roby wrote:
“Out-of-control spending elsewhere in the federal government continues to consume a greater and greater portion of our resources, and there’s only so much to go around…Unrestrained growth of ‘auto-pilot’ social programs is threatening our ability to properly fund the military. A recent report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office outlined how, without changes to current law, mandatory spending on social programs and subsidized health care will grow at an extraordinary rate over the next 25 years, while non-mandatory spending, where military funding comes from, will shrink to dangerous levels.”
Rep. Roby said, “Mandatory spending has increased dramatically over the decades, going from about 20 percent of the budget in the 1960s to about 45 percent in the 1980s to more than 60 percent today. And, as mandatory spending has consumed a greater share of the budget, the military’s portion has decreased just as dramatically.”
Rep. Roby said that as this rate the United States could spend more on interest on the debt than it does on national defense. Roby warned that, “If we continue down this path. What kind of message does that send to our enemies or those who seek to undermine our global influence?”
Rep. Roby continued, “The problem isn’t limited to the military. Funding for other American priorities like transportation infrastructure, education, agriculture, or other legitimate interests is also threatened by unrestrained growth of social welfare programs…President Obama’s soon-to-be-released budget proposal reportedly contains no reforms to rein in mandatory spending, despite widespread agreement that reforms are desperately needed.”
Rep. Roby said, “The Constitution calls on the United States Government to ‘promote the general welfare’ as well as to ‘provide for the common defense.’ We cannot allow one responsibility to continue to undermine the other…Changes to the Armed Forces will likely affect every major military installation in the country, and our Alabama bases and posts are no exception. A smaller Army will certainly have an impact at Fort Rucker, one that we’ve expected now for some time.”
The conservative Congresswoman did say however that, “The Army plans to realign its aviation assets to reflect our current footing and improve efficiency. Part of the plan would call for modernizing the training aircraft at Fort Rucker’s Army Aviation Center of Excellence, which would enhance the training mission there….As it stands, the aircraft realignment plan would have a positive impact on Fort Rucker and would not negatively impact the Alabama National Guard.”
Despite downsizing America’s defense capabilities over the last five years, the national debt has grown by an average of over a $trillion a year. A recent report by the Congressional Budget Office predicted that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) will result in another 2 million Americans dropping out of the work force. This following a jobless economic recovery where fewer Americans are now working than when the Great Recession ended. As fewer Americans have jobs there are fewer and fewer Americans who pay payroll and income taxes, while at the same time qualifying for more and more government benefits such as free school lunches, food stamps, and energy assistance programs.
Increasing demand for government entitlements combined with a shrinking work force means that balancing the budget and paying for discretionary programs like defense or infrastructure will be increasingly challenging moving forward.
Congresswoman Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.