Heritage Foundation: More of Everything!

23.03.09

Categorie: Finances, Reality Check |

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While taking a trip with Elaine on one episode of Seinfeld, Jerry got bumped to first class. While Elaine suffered in coach, an attractive flight attendant pampered Jerry with drinks and ice cream sundaes. “More of anything?” she asked. “More of everything!” Jerry declared.

It’s telling that that‘s what popped into my head while reading The Heritage Foundation’s new recommendations for U.S. military force structure under the Obama Administration. “Success requires a military capable of defeating traditional threats posed by nation-states, transnational threats from terrorist organizations and organized crime, and dangers from collapsed states, such as piracy.”

To Heritage, that means more of everything:

* Buying 2,400 new Air Force fighters, versus the roughly 2,000 projected in current plans

* Increasing the long-term Navy carrier fleet from 11 to 13

* Building more than the planned three DDG-1000 stealth destroyers, despite their $5-billion price

* Maintaining the Army’s Future Combat Systems modernization scheme, despite its delays and cost increases

“On this basis, the budget target for defense should be to maintain today’s levels of spending, adjusting for economic growth — roughly 4 percent of GDP.”

But today’s budgets are inadequate even for today’s force structure. Expanding the force means spending more than 4 percent. That’s simply a non-starter in a global recession.

“The United States cannot arbitrarily pick the enemies that it wants to fight or ignore potential threats that may become challenges or conflicts,” Heritage contends. True, but we can choose to accept a higher level of risk in preparing for the types of conflicts that are clearly remote contingencies. Major state-on-state warfare is less likely today than at any point in recent history. That means we can relax requirements for major, conventional-war hardware, especially fighter jets and aircraft carriers.

Besides, we don’t really have a choice. Defense spending simply will not rise above 4 percent of GDP, no matter what Heritage wants. And 4 percent buys a future force with fewer major combat systems than today’s.

In other words, there’s no free upgrade to first class. We’re flying coach. Get used to it.

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6 Responses to “Heritage Foundation: More of Everything!”

  1. Heretic says:

    Sounds like the Heritage Foundation hasn’t played the same games we have …
    Build Your Own Air Force
    Build Your Own Navy

    I’d love to see just how ridiculously expensive their plans for the USAF and USN are respectively when “playing the game” and putting a price on their wishlist(s) to Santa.

  2. Moose says:

    Normally I resist casting aspersions, but Heritage is attempting a Partisan hit-job on this one. They’ve set a completely unreachable goal for the sole purpose of giving opponents of the Obama Administration something to wave in the air with false outrage. They’ve gone from “conservative research and analysis” to “convenient conservative soundbites” rather shamelessly.

    Well, either that or they really believe all the above are possible at 4% and there are a number of Heritage Fellows who should be mailing their diplomas back.

  3. soonergrunt says:

    The Heritage Foundation has only ever existed to do partisan hit jobs. Any useful policy prescriptions that organization has ever come up with were purely incidental.
    A 4% GDP defense spending goal, absent any strategic basis, is just spending money for the sake of spending money, whether or not it’s enough or, as has been pointed out mulitple times, too much for the express purpose of producing a partisan cudgel.

  4. Jim Dolbow says:

    I, too, disagree with The Heritage Foundation. I think we should spend 5-6 percent of our shrinking GDP on defense and not just 4 percent.

  5. I reject the idea that Heritage is being partisan here. Never underestimate the stupidity of your fellow man.

    Historically, conservatives have always thrown money at defense no matter how irrelevant a weapon may be for current threats. The Left is quite the opposite, advocating rapids cuts of the same with little regard for national security. Lets hope with Gates in charge as a “Hybrid Defense Secretary”, some sanity may return to procurement.

  6. Paul Wogamun says:

    It looks like the defense industry lobbyists are going to have to up the ante, and start making big donation$ to left-leaning think tanks like the Brookings Institute. After all, who can soundly disagree with a presumably left-leaning Brookings Institute subtly recommending an increase in defense spending?

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