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Public Statements

DOD and Debt/Deficit

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

* Mr. QUIGLEY. Madam Speaker, I rise today because we can no longer afford to ignore defense spending as our deficit rises.

* The unprecedented federal stimulus package and two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have put the FY 2009 federal deficit at 10 percent of GDP, its highest level since 1945.

* As the federal deficit grows and we look for places to cut, we must be able to scrutinize every part of the federal budget--including defense spending.

* Defense spending has more than doubled since September 11, 2001, and at $719 billion, the current defense budget, is the highest it has been since World War II.

* Our discretionary spending has also grown by $583 billion since 2001, and defense spending accounts for 65 percent of that growth.

* Accounting for close to 20 percent of the federal budget, defense spending simply cannot be ignored as we look for places to cut.

* For too long we have followed policies that assume more spending automatically means more safety and more power.

* But new critics of this unquestioned defense spending argue cuts to the defense budget can and should be made; and these cuts can be done without comprising our safety.

* A new report by the Sustainable Defense Task Force, comprising security experts from across the country, finds that we could save up to $960 billion over the next ten years, without jeopardizing our national security.

* The report outlines a whole menu of reform options ranging from reducing our oversized nuclear stockpiles to cutting our bloated force structure in Europe and Asia--all of which are possible due to the U.S.'s current security posture: We no longer face the traditional opponents we once did.

* We still operate as if we are at war with an opponent as powerful as the former Soviet Union; but today the U.S. does not face a threat that even remotely compares to the Soviet Union.

* Not even China, which spends barely one-fifth as much on military as the U.S., can compete.

* The U.S. spends more on research and development than Russia does on its whole military.

* Today, the U.S. spends more than two and half times as much on its military as the group of potential opponents, including Russia and China.

* In other words, the U.S. could cut its defense spending in half and we would still be spending more than our current and potential adversaries.

* As the Task Force points out in its report, our military strength far out-weighs any threat from our adversaries, and can easily be reduced while still maintaining our military superiority.

* However, while we are building up our capacity to fight traditional opponents, such as China, we are failing to build a defense force capable of combating nontraditional opponents such as Al Qaeda.

* We have spent $1 trillion and lost 5,500 American lives on large-scale military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan with little progress to show for it.

* As Benjamin Friedman, of the Cato Institute, points out, our principal enemy Al Qaeda ``has no army, no air force and no navy.''

* And the military assets most useful for counterterrorism are relatively inexpensive such as surveillance technologies, special operations forces and drones.

* As the threats to America evolve, so too must our military structure.

* But over the years, rather than realigning our military to meet current threats, we have simply added more requirements to our military, growing our defense budget by 9 percent on average every year.

* There has never been a better time to reinvent our defense budget.

* We are facing a growing deficit, forcing us to make cuts, and we have a defense budget ripe for reform.

* Now all we need is the political will to make tough choices.

* With limited resources we must choose, because the real ramification of overspending on defense is not simply that we will have too many unnecessary ships, aircrafts or missiles--but that we won't have enough resources to support vital domestic investments such as health care, education, and infrastructure needed to remain a superpower.

* Military power is not simply about spending more than our adversaries.

* Real military power, argues Kori Schake, a top foreign policy advisor for John McCain, is ``fundamentally premised on the solvency of the American government and the vibrancy of the U.S. economy.''

* But in order to maintain that vibrancy we must get our fiscal house in order, and in doing so reexamine our defense spending and make cuts and reforms where necessary.

* Secretary Gates said it best while paraphrasing President Eisenhower, ``The United States should spend as much as necessary on national defense, but not one penny more.''

* Let's hold him to his word. Let's reinvent the defense budget.

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