Blood or Treasure


Republicans in congress love to describe how they will hold the line on spending and fight any tax increase. Indeed, they seem reluctant to even consider tax code changes that might eliminate narrowly focused concessions (co-called “loopholes”).

It looks like the “Super Committee” setup by congress to propose deficit reduction policies will fail. This means automatic across the board cuts. These cuts would include cuts to military expenditures. While Republicans express disdain for the welfare state, they still seem beholden to the warfare state. Conservative think tanks such as The American Enterprise Institute decry the “gutting” of military that such cuts would entail. Indeed some Republicans are looking at ways to get around the process they set up.

Republicans love to lecture us about “difficult choices.” Well they now face a difficult choice. It is blood or treasure. Republicans face a choice to give up their beloved tax cuts, or cut back on the warfare state.

Even a fifty percent cut in military expenditure would still leave the US outspending every other nation. If congress (and the Republicans) will ask ordinary citizens to cut back (on Social Security and medical benefits), then it seems only fair to ask those getting fat on military contracts to do their bit. We could call it the war on deficits. Perhaps that would be a war actually worth fighting.


While military expenditures are the largest item of discretionary expenditure, they are dwarfed by the mandatory expenditures of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid. I think we should consider all expenditure as “discretionary.” However, given the constitutional role of national defense, it seems absurd to consider the military discretionary but the welfare programs of Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid mandatory.


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