The Wars Are Over Military budget cuts are coming, and they should. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, our nation spends nearly three times more than China and Russia combined on military. Our military spending of $711 billion is 40 percent of the entire world’s spending on military, $1,735 billion.
We have withdrawn our troops from Iraq and will complete the same process in Afghanistan by 2014. After every major conflict, the U.S. military has had significant budget reductions. In the seven years following the Vietnam and Cold War peak budgets, the defense declined by almost 25 percent.
The bipartisan 2011 Budget Control Act agreed to reduce Defense Department future expenditures by approximately $487 billion over the next 10 years—not at once as some war hawks claim. If the House Republicans and White House fail to reach an agreement to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” the military would have automatic, across-the-board cuts totaling $55 billion next year.
The 16 counties in the Florida Panhandle will be impacted because of the substantial concentration of Navy, Marine, Army and Air Force military operations in the region. Economists have estimated the military supports over 400 private sector companies and has an annual economic impact of $15 billion.
However Northwest Florida and the rest of the state should have expected the cuts. The Defense budget increases weren’t indefinite. Our governor and state legislators have talked constantly about the federal deficit. They can’t preach against the size of the federal government without being willing to take some cuts.
Defense contractors haven’t been willing to go down without a fight. They want the federal cheese to be cut, but just not their slice. They prefer misdirection and want all the cuts on the human services, health care and education sides.
The National Association of Manufacturers is pointing out the defense spending cuts will cost jobs, as many as 1 million in the private sector, and we all know mentioning “jobs” is the new hot button for chambers and politicians. The trade association has reported that Florida could lose as many as 56,600 jobs over the next year.
Dr. David Goetsch, an economist who is the vice chairman of Florida’s Defense Support Task Force, has called the defense cuts devastating for Florida and the region.
There’s no mention of whether the companies will adapt to other markets. No, they will just shut their doors and whine about the good old days while soldiers died in wars so they could make millions, even billions.
The wars are over. It’s time to refocus our economy, nationally, regionally and locally.