As our country’s economic crisis continues, many progressives and conservatives alike are deeply concerned about skyrocketing deficits. Sharing this concern myself, I urge Congress to cut defense spending. I believe that large cuts in defense spending are indispensable if we hope to return to balanced budgets any time in the foreseeable future.

According to an October letter to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform co-written by Congressmen Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas), “The Department of Defense currently takes up almost 56 percent of all discretionary federal spending, and accounts for nearly 65 percent of the increase in national discretionary spending levels since 2001.” Clearly, defense spending is the largest cause of our deficits.

Furthermore, a significant portion of this spending is no longer in the interest of our national security. Much of the current defense spending is attributable to the continuation of the Cold War policy of defending foreign countries, many of which are now far wealthier than they were immediately following World War II. As the Frank-Paul letter states, “Years after the Soviet threat has disappeared, we continue to provide European and Asian nations with military protection through our nuclear umbrella and the troops stationed in our overseas military bases. Given the relative wealth of these countries, we should examine the extent of this burden that we continue to shoulder on our own dime.” Thus, Congress can generate substantial savings simply by terminating outdated policies.

Unfortunately, these cuts may not occur due to resistance from neoconservative Republicans. That’s right – many of the same people who made deficit reduction a signature issue on the campaign trail are unwilling to even consider cutting the largest source of our deficits.

According to The Santa Clarita Valley Signal, Congressman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) has worked to pass “a National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011 that is not weighed down by the current majority’s social agenda items.” In other words, McKeon believes that the trillions of dollars that the Democratic Congress spent on schemes such as the bailouts and the stimulus package should not preclude reckless defense spending. He is willing to continue irresponsible spending on the schemes of the military-industrial complex, letting our children and grandchildren foot the bill.

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