Obama shortchanging defense

(Denver Post, Sept. 6) Peace and prosperity are what ultimately lift the polls and win national elections. A big reason why the president and congressional Democrats fear losses in 2010 is not just their unpopular health care takeover. It’s that many Americans neither feel safer nor richer in September of the young hero’s first year. Remember last January? Obama was going to exit Iraq, win Afghanistan, and tame Iran. His pork-laden stimulus bill and eye-popping deficits would “save or create” countless new jobs, keeping unemployment below 8% (it’s now in the mid-nines). He was hailed as the next FDR. But campaigning turned out to be easier than governing. Colorado has particular reason to feel bait-and-switched. Only about a thousand stimulus-related jobs were identified in the state by a recent Denver Post survey. Meanwhile our economy, long accustomed to strong defense employment and thriving military installations, sees zilch from a White House that loses no love for the Pentagon.

Never mind that when speaking at Invesco Field a year ago, the future president pledged to “rebuild our military” and proclaimed his “sacred commitment to give (our forces) the equipment they need in battle.” Or that Vice-President Biden, addressing Air Force cadets in June, asserted we need a “robust, vibrant, and growing” air arm, because “peace without military strength is an illusion.”

If Biden is right, and many of us believe he is, then his boss’s budget priorities are doubly wrong. They’re not only misguided for keeping the peace, and for war-fighting if necessary. They also miss obvious opportunities for recession-fighting and job creation.

“Everyone in Congress who is defense-minded, Democrats as well as Republicans,” says Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado Springs), “is astounded at the way defense is being slashed while dollars are thrown at everything else” in the name of economic stimulus.

The $1.2 billion Obama is refusing to spend on missile defense, for example, is “laughably small” in comparison with his projected budget deficits in the trillions, Lamborn points out. So the rationale must be an “anti-defense bias,” he believes, and not some theory of how to revive the economy. After all, FDR’s own military buildup following 1940 did more for prosperity than all his stimulus spending in the 1930s.

It’s bizarre to see this president flexing his political muscles to kill some of our most successful military programs and the jobs that go with them. His veto threat recently killed the F-22 Raptor program, which builds the most advanced, stealthiest, longest-range strike fighter in the world, and employs tens of thousands of skilled American workers. Lockheed, a major Colorado employer, will lose work as a result. The company may later enjoy big contracts for a successor fighter, the F-35 – but back-loaded stimulus is no stimulus at all.

By itself, the F-22 cancellation doesn’t prove much about Obama and the Democrats. Some Republicans sided with them, including military hawk Sen. John McCain, budget hawk Sen. Tom Coburn, and Defense Secretary Robert Gates. But this free-spending administration has been stingy on one weapons system after another – the F-18 Hornet, the next airborne tanker, the Future Combat technology for ground forces, and as mentioned before, anti-missile defenses.

Cutting the missile interceptors, warns Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Aurora), “poses a direct and grave danger to our national security at a time when we face threats from North Korea and potentially from a resurgent Russia and a nuclear-armed Iran.”

Agreed, congressman. But you are talking reality, whereas this administration operates on far-left ideology. It’s driven by Barack Obama’s fixation with green jobs despite their economic downside (witness Spain’s awful experience), and by his vision for “a civilian national security force that's just as well funded” as the military. Those notions may earn a rebuke from voters at next year’s election, which can’t come soon enough.