December 1, 2010
Dear Representative Paulsen,
It seems we agree that it is important to reduce the federal budget and cut the national debt. To that end, it is clear that any meaningful attempt to balance the federal budget must reduce military spending. Military spending, over half of all discretionary spending, is too big to be exempt from cuts.
In addition to considering military spending from a fiscal-responsibility perspective, the case can be made that military spending can be cut without seriously affecting our strategic security. The U.S. today faces no global threat comparable to the large nation-state adversaries that challenged us in the past. We greatly overmatch traditional challengers. However, we now face different challenges: the threat of terrorism, regional instability, ethnic conflict, and weapons proliferation. We need to rebalance our strategy and forces while maintaining the capability and flexibility to meet other threats that may arise.
There are a number of respected organizations and committees making suggestions for how the military can be rebalanced and what to cut. They include the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility (Co-chaired by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson), and the Sustainable Defense Task Force made up of experts from a range of organizations including The Project on Defense Alternatives, The Cato Institute, and The Center For American Progress. We have reviewed many of these suggestions and summarize some of them in the attached memorandum that are clearly identifiable with measurable numbers. Savings estimates are from the Sustainable Defense Task Force report and are over a ten-year period. We recommend them to you for your support.
The cuts we describe total over $670 billion in savings over ten years; less than the one-year $750 billion budgeted for FY2011. They do however demonstrate how we can begin to get control of our military budget. Most of the reports we have seen recommend even broader cuts to include personnel reductions, compensation reform, and process improvements.
The Bowles-Simpson commission presents an illustrative list of $100 billion in defense savings just in the 2015 budget. The Sustainable Defense Task Force proposes saving up to $960 billion over the next ten years. We hope you will be able to support significant military cuts as they are discussed and planned.
Bill Berneking for
The Third District Minnesota Peace Project