Heritage Foundation: Stimulus Plan Hurts Long Term U.S. Security

Thursday, January 29, 2009 8:20 AM
By: Dave Eberhart

Heritage Foundation experts are continuing to strongly critique the $825 billion stimulus package passed by the House of Representatives.

In a new report, Heritage says, "It would be flat wrong to attempt to justify the stimulus on the pretext that it will promote national security," adding that the proposed initiative, which includes shots of cash to Defense, State, and Homeland Security, represent less than two percent of the stimulus and less than four percent of the defense budget.

"This spending would have a marginal impact on national preparedness. On the contrary, the stimulus as currently structured to include massive deficit spending that will likely do more long-term harm than good to the economy while undermining efforts to sustain defense spending," note report authors.

Author-experts Baker Spring, Mackenzie Eaglen and James Jay Carafano, Ph.D., advise that any shot of short-term funding will do little to maintain readiness and modernize the military.

"The Pentagon requires sustained multi-year investments. Congress should demonstrate that it is serious about defense by putting defense spending where it belongs -- in the annual budget of the defense department," say the experts.

Furthermore, according to the report, proposals to offset reducing the defense budget by including "national security" spending in the proposed stimulus package are "wrongheaded."

Rather than settle for what’s in the stimulus package, the Heritage team endorses a joint congressional resolution being mulled by Senator James Inhofe, R-Okla., and Representative Trent Franks, R-Ariz.

That resolution would commit four percent of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) to defense.

"This legislation serves the national interest, first and foremost, because it will allocate the resources necessary to protect the United States. Adopting the spending guideline proposed by this resolution and crafting annual defense budgets to implement its goals would be the most efficacious means to not only sustain but revitalize the military America needs," conclude the experts.

What America needs for its military, says the Heritage team is a budget that will allow:

Achieving the ideal composition and capabilities of U.S. military forces will require:

Building a robust complement of capabilities for the spectrum of missions the armed forces will face;

Ensuring adequate funding for ongoing operations;

Maintaining a trained and ready all-volunteer force;

Preparing for future challenges and conflicts; and

Fundamentally reforming manpower and procurement policies.

"Underfunding defense would ultimately produce a hollow force that is either too small, unable to sustain current operational demands, not ready, or at a technological disadvantage on the battlefield," determined the team.

The authors reminded that defense spending is not the source of the federal government’s current fiscal crisis.

Defense spending has gradually declined as a percentage of GDP since the 1960s, while spending on the major entitlements (now about half the federal budget) have usually exceeded economic growth rates over the same period.

Addressing entitlement spending, not defense expenditures, is the key long-term challenge for lawmakers, they concluded.

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