Four Percent for Freedom, Hey!

In a possible end-run around executive guidance that DoD ratchet back spending, two lawmakers have proposed a baseline criteria for defense budgets.

S.J. Res. 10 proposes a minimum budget of not less than 4 percent of the GDP. The joint resolution was introduced Feb. 12 by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.). A similar bill introduced last year failed.

Typically, the base defense budget (as opposed to the actual budget) clocks in at roughly 3.6 percent, but once the massive supplemental giveaways of recent years are factored in, DoD is above the 4 percent factor. Inhofe, a senior member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, and Franks, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, maintain the bill will “keep this country safe, restore our military to the level of capability and readiness the people of this country demand of them. …

So why “Four Percent for the Defense of Freedom” now? The dynamic duo seems to see defense as stimulus. (There seems to be little disagreement on defense’s positive role in the economy.) Inhofe and Franks want to ensure defense spending will continue to spur economic growth and job production. They also want to send a clear message to our military, our allies, and enemies alike that we are committed to the security of our nation and the preservation of freedom and democracy around the world.” (We assume that saber rattling targets Iran, Somali pirates, and France. We made that up.) Additionally, the release from Inhofe warns of the “hollow force” of the 1970s. Timing with the latest financial endless soup-and-salad bar (compliments of Washington) might be no coincidence.

The question among defense pundits seems to be, “Does a proper defense require an expenditure of the level of 4 percent of the GDP?” Opinions vary, but if you blow through program budgets like toner at the IRS, you need every dollar possible. Has the endless (read: endless) stream of green enabled a culture of budget-be-damned? Would fewer dollars force responsible oversight and spur creativity?  (When queried, Magic Eight Ball stared back blankly.)

The bill has been referred to a probable death in committee. 

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