Unlike Health Care, When It Comes To Nukes, Cost Is No Object
Ryan Grim - Huffington Post - 3/6/10
Ryan Grim - Huffington Post - 3/6/10
The lead story in Saturday's Washington Post, about the nuclear weapons decisions facing President Obama, runs longer than 1,300 words, but five a reader won't find are "cost," "dollars," "money," "debt," or "deficit." A reader would also search in vain for any talk of a "fiscal crisis" or a need to balance nuclear weapons priorities with available revenues. (That's held pretty much true since the Reagan years, which is why we now have 8000+ war heads.)
That same reader, of course, rarely has to venture past the first sentence of a health care reform story to find that the subject is a "trillion dollar overhaul." Occasionally, it's noted that the trillion dollars is spread over ten years. (Under GW, New Mexico alone received an average of 1.125 trillion per year in DOD contracts. Not all of that was for nukes and a lot of it was spread out over multiple years well into the future. (Corporate Security) A hefty part of it was for other experimental (some now operational) weapons systems.)
One particular decision that Obama faces is whether to continue what's known as the "triad" - three independent ways the United States developed to annihilate the Soviet Union. Warheads can be delivered with bombers, from submarines or with intercontinental ballistic missiles.
The military developed ICBMs in the '50s and '60s, recognizing that bombers would soon be obsolete and too easy to defend against. But the bomber squadrons have their own internal and industry defenders and have never been phased out. Each leg of the triad costs tens of billions of dollars per year to maintain.
House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) has proposed what he refers to as a "radical" notion. "My point is that now that there is no longer a Soviet Union, and there is instead a country called Russia, which is much smaller and in fact much weaker militarily, it is clear that we do not need to maintain all three weapons systems for dropping thermo-nuclear weapons on this now nonexistent empire," Frank told HuffPost. "My radical proposal is that we say to the Pentagon that they can pick two of the three, and let us abolish one." (Let's just keep the submarines and dump the other two systems. You know, the two systems that encourage targeting on fixed locations with in the US.)
The Post reports that Obama's aides will recommend to him that all three ways to destroy the old Soviet Union be kept in place. The amount that could be saved by cutting any of the three is likely much higher than the two largest ways Obama has identified to pay for health care reform: an excise tax on high-cost premiums that unions and the middle class loathes and cuts to Medicare Advantage, which have seniors frightened.
Barney Frank is making way too much sense which means Washington will be flooded with special interest money--except for him. It does really amaze me that when it comes to policy discussion about nuclear weapons the mainstream press never mentions the money angle. Maybe they don't want to give up valuable advertising space to insert all those zeroes.
Health care is a drop in the bucket compared to defense spending. The entirety of all our social welfare programs is outmatched by our yearly spending on defense, and I'm not including the expenses of Afghanistan and Iraq. If one adds in the cost of servicing the debt incurred for defense spending this takes defense spending to 54% of the total federal budget.
In 2008 the US spent 711 billion dollars on defense. That's a lot of CAT scans. It's also 701 billion more than the Obama administration wants to spend on health care per year. Does this make any sense. And here all along I thought we won the cold war. Russia must too because they only spend 70 billion per year--one tenth of what we do. Why we outspend the next 15 countries combined and twelve of those are our allies. Who or what is all this spending defending against?
Barney Frank is onto something big. The question is does any other congressman have the courage to act? My other question is will the USCCB back Barney Frank? Or do they only back straight congressmen named Bart Stupak?
Or do they really only see abortion and gay sex as the moral issues of the twenty first century? Isn't all this defense (offense) spending all about a culture of death? Last I checked B1 bombers didn't exist to spread peace, love, and joy and they aren't my definition of a defensive weapons system.