Military & National Defense
As a graduate of the Naval Academy, a Marine Corps Intelligence Officer, and a former member of the House Armed Services Committee, military issues are extremely important to me. As an appointed member of a the Armed Services Committee Fiscal Management Panel, I am especially interested in how we can responsibly and efficiently spend defense dollars.
The first job of government is to secure the safety and liberty of its citizens from threats at home and abroad. The Constitution charges Congress with the responsibility for structuring, building, maintaining, and funding that military capability and it is a responsibility policymakers must make a top priority. Like all categories of government spending, defense spending should be executed with efficiency and accountability. However, because it is the first responsibility of government, the national defense should be funded based on strategic, not merely budgetary, calculations. I support necessary defense spending to protect vital national interests today and ensure that our armed forces are prepared for the challenges of tomorrow.
Let national strategic priorities determine spending levels, not the other way around: National defense spending should be consistent with America’s military goals and strategies. That said, the United States still faces a complex array of security challenges across the globe: We still have a military presence in the Middle East and Central Asia; we face threats from terrorism and nuclear proliferation; rogue nations like Iran and North Korea can jeopardize global stability; there is continued turmoil and unrest in the Middle East and Asia; and there are growing concerns about cyberwarfare, to name a few. There is certainly fat to be trimmed and efficiencies to be found in the Pentagon's budget, and I am a staunch supporter of making spending reductions in those areas where it is possible. But we should never try to manage down to a dollar figure when we are dealing with national security. Cuts in military spending should be based on new approaches to our evolving national security policy, not on political convenience or a narrow-sighted approach to reducing federal expenditures.
Our troops should not pay the price for Washington’s refusal to address the drivers of our debt: As we continue to ask our troops to perform more tasks in more places around the world, it is irresponsible to ask them to do it all with less. America’s fiscal problems pose a real threat to our military, and left unaddressed these problems will spell decline for America as a world power. Programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and interest on our debt will soon grow to consume every dollar of revenue that the government raises in taxes; essential programs like defense will be neglected and consequently threaten our nation’s ability to defend itself. As former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen said, "I think the biggest threat we have to our national security is our debt." We cannot jeopardize American security because we aren't willing to reign in spending elsewhere.
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