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Back in April, I served as the lead author of the Congressional Progressive Caucus’ People’s Budget — a plan that carves a clear path to American competitiveness, prosperity and security.
With all the current focus on pending automatic cuts in defense, the People’s Budget would achieve this ambitious goal by responsibly ending our wars, which are being paid for with borrowed money. The proposed plan would end emergency supplementals for overseas contingency operations starting in fiscal 2013 and provide $170 billion in fiscal 2012 to fund redeployment, while saving more than $1.8 trillion over 10 years.
Current defense spending patterns reflect industry avarice and dysfunction, not national security needs or threat levels. A cornerstone of the People’s Budget is a reformation of the Defense Department’s procurement system. During the past decade, procurement costs have risen 110 percent. Government Accountability Office analyses reveal that major weapons programs are plagued by $300 billion in cost overruns. Today’s acquisition process delivers too many underperforming weapons programs that are over budget and behind schedule and produces too many unaffordable systems that don’t make America any safer.
The People’s Budget ensures that our country’s defense spending does not continue to contribute significantly to our current fiscal burden. It lays out a realistic reduction in defense spending on conventional and strategic forces and capabilities that would not compromise our national security interests or capabilities.
Decreasing routine deployment of troops overseas would save $80 billion in the next 10 years. Reducing the number of Air Force squadrons and canceling outdated weapon systems (including variations of the F-35, MV-22 Osprey and Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle) would save around $150 billion in the next 10 years.
Reducing the size of the Army and Marine Corps would save $147 billion in the next 10 years. Reducing the fleet size of the Navy would save $126.6 billion. Reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal would save $113.5 billion. Finally, it is crucially important to note that we are able to achieve $2.3 trillion in savings with no effect on TRICARE.
Now that the super committee has failed, we face an automatic cut in defense spending. This is a defining moment for leadership in Washington because this is a defining moment for America. We must heed the American people’s call to action by making tough choices today to keep America exceptional tomorrow.
Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) is a member of the Appropriations and Budget committees.