How About Some Representation?
|Article Title: "Guns And Butter: A Primer "|
Section: Issues & Insights
|Federal Spending: says that for the cost of 41 days in , 10 million children can receive health insurance for a year. The Constitution says a lot about national defense. It says nothing about insurance.|
Cut-and run Democrats argue that it's an either/or proposition. The choice, they say, is between defense spending in general and funding the Iraq war in particular and expanding programs like the State Child Health Insurance Program beyond its original intent to meet a need largely already met by the private sector.
Democratic attempts to "reauthorize the war" are based on the cliche that had we known then what we know now, they would never have voted for it in the first place.
But couldn't that logic be applied to all federal spending programs? How about a vote to reauthorize every program in the federal budget based on its cost-effectiveness?
How about a vote, for example, to "reauthorize" the War on Poverty and its legislative legacy? It has consumed trillions of dollars since its inception, but despite all the good intentions, the percentage of people defined as living in "poverty" has hardly budged.
Democrats such as Rep. David Obey of have proposed a separate "war tax" to pay for the War on Terror. We have one: It's called the income tax, which began as a 2% levy only on the very rich, but which has morphed into an economy-strangling behemoth that finances an annual budget of $3,000,000,000,000 - that's three trillion dollars.
Defense spending constituted only $528 billion of that budget in fiscal 2006 - or about 4% of gross domestic product. In 1953, during the , it hit a postwar high of 14.2% of GDP. In 1968, in the middle of , it reached 9.5%. And in 1986, at the height of the Reagan buildup that doomed the evil empire, it was 6.8%.
We're not spending too much on the military. We're spending too little to meet both the needs of the War on Terror and the rising threat of a nuclear Iran, not to mention dealing with the frantic pace at which both and are arming.
Since the end of the Cold War, the needs and commitments of the U.S. military have expanded, not diminished. Yet our forces were almost twice as big at the end of the Reagan and Bush 41 administrations as they are today.
The active-duty Army was cut from 18 divisions to 10. The Navy, which reached 568 ships in the late 1980s, struggles today to sustain a fleet of just 276. The number of tactical air wings in the Air Force fell from 37 at the time of Desert Storm to 20 under .
The Preamble to the Constitution speaks of the need to "provide for the common defence" and to "promote the general welfare." But "promoting" doesn't mean providing. And while the Constitution speaks loudly on the structure of our armed forces and the role of Congress and commander in chief, it is silent on things like children's insurance.
Democrats forget that the greatest social service that a government can perform for its people is to keep them alive and free.
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