I am in the military so no one can accuse me of being some anti-defense hippie who doesn’t know how much we need planes and things. I have been in the military–in the reserves for anyone trying to cite DoDD 1344.10, let this be my declaration IAW paragraph 188.8.131.52. and statement that I was not on active duty orders when I wrote or published this–for almost eight years, serving at some of the highest echelons of command and seen firsthand the budgetary concerns we face in the Department of Defense.
That being said, the Trump budget is a firehose of wasted money at the expense of people eating, having heat, and other necessities. Let’s break this down.
Trump is increasing the defense budget by $52.3 billion for new planes and ships. While this sounds like a good thing for Norfolk and the defense contractors populating our state and contributing to about 11.8% of the state’s GDP. When defense spending goes up, Virginia gets the lion’s share of the increase. While this sounds great for the state economy, the cost is going to be felt elsewhere.
Also in the Trump plan is a cut in funding to Meals on Wheels, a Virginia-based national non-profit that provides food to homebound seniors. About 24,000 homebound seniors are served in Virginia and about 52% of Meals on Wheels Virginia branch’s funding comes from the program Trump intends to cut. It doesn’t get anymore cartoonishly evil than this. I’ve looked and the only people who thought that starving populations in order to build weapons were communist dictators.
But that isn’t the half of it. Thousands of Virginians stand to lose Low Income Home Energy Assistance under the new budget cuts. This would leave thousands of low income families without the help they need to heat their homes during the winter. Make no mistake: people rely on this assistance to survive the winter. We may as well evict them and let them freeze in the snow. This isn’t much of an exaggeration since many of these homes are not well insulated because people living below the poverty line typically can’t afford descent housing.
What all this means, apart from being a page from the Kim Jong Un manual on governance, is that the state is going to have to carry more of the burden, making that slight bump in defense spending incapable in covering the new cost the state will now incur just to keep people alive.
Also, these new planes and ships are going to be worthless when we are also cutting foreign aid programs. You see, there is this thing the US has been doing since 2001 called Foreign Internal Defense, an intricate strategy of diplomacy, military operations, collaboration with NGOs, and more to help nations get back on their feet and maintain stability as American allies. Defense Secretary Mattis knows about it and actually opposes the Trump plan to cut funding to programs that support these efforts. All the planes and ships in the world will not fix the complex problems that require the inter-agency cooperation and collaboration that Trump is actually specifically cutting. Our top military official are saying that doing so is going to make America less safe, which means those planes and ships are just waiting to get deployed in the next bloody conflict we inevitably get embroiled in.
Not to mention the fact that the defense acquisitions process contains some of the most capitalism killing bureaucracy in the entire government. Ever wonder why contracts are always awarded to BAE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and others? It is because the regulatory process is structured such that taking risks is discouraged and awarding contracts to the big companies means job security for the underlings in the process. No one wants to award a contract to start up that goes under a few years later; that’s how you get fired. But the unintended consequence is that a oligopoly is formed such that Lockheed, for example, can shake the government tree for more money for the consistently over budget, under-performing, and behind schedule F-35 program without losing its contract.
Funneling more money into these companies may update our planes and ships, but at what cost? Being in the military, I know of numerous ways to save money. Abolish all needless promotion, change of command, and retirement ceremonies. Surgically target the lazy employees who stymie the progress of a given agencies. Create a better culture that is focused on accomplishing the mission with the least amount of money possible. We are hearty folk, we military personnel, and we can survive budget cuts to needless expenditures and a culture that seeks to weed out the useless. What we cannot survive is haphazard sequestration or pointless spending; neither solve the underlying problems.
And attempting to solve these problems on the backs of the poor is just wrong and goes against everything we swore to uphold. How can we take fire and food from the people of the United States and declare our oaths fulfilled? It runs entirely contrary to the core of military values of selfless service, integrity, and honor.
The American Solidarity Party supports a strong national defense, but also a smart national defense. It further supports the proposition that, even though we may have the mightiest national defense in the world, it is useless if the people we intended to protect starve or freeze. We need better solutions to budgetary concerns that do not involve hacking at one program or another in order to solve the growing federal debt. The ASP offers those solutions because, after all, they worked for Poland.