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Arkedis: Pentagon Shouldn’t Take Bulk of Cuts

Regarding the article “White House Stays Out of Deficit Panel” (Nov. 3), I understand why President Barack Obama wants to keep super committee politics at arm’s length, but let’s not forget that he has a huge stake in its success. Streamlined committee rules mean a real debt package has a shot at making it through Congress, and fixing our debt is key to funding the president’s other priorities.

And if the committee fails? The Pentagon suffers most, with up to a trillion dollars in automatic defense cuts that would force big strategic changes to America’s long-standing and successful internationalist world-view.

The Department of Defense isn’t the main driver of the deficit. That’s taxes and entitlement spending: Government revenues are at pathetic historical levels, while entitlement outlays are predicted to hit $2.2 trillion a year by 2016, far outpacing military spending. It’s not popular, but increased taxes and reduced entitlements would do more to balance the budget than gutting the military.

We need a balanced approach to deficit reduction that puts everything on the table. The Pentagon should make a contribution, but we must remember that all defense programs are not created equal. Cuts must target the exploding personnel costs driving military budgets, while protecting investment in advanced technologies to meet tomorrow’s threats. And research and procurement funding is at a (relative) 35-year low — in this area, we need to do more, not less.

— Jim Arkedis, director of the National Security Project at the Progressive Policy Institute

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