Duppler in Townhall: Edging Closer to the Fiscal Cliff
Today, our Executive Director Mattie Duppler appears in Townhall.com, discussing the suggestions made by some Members of Congress that tax hikes should be negotiated in exchange for eliminating the coming defense sequester. As Duppler points out, this would undermine successful efforts to streamline spending and any potential for comprehensive tax reform down the road. Moreover, it would further undermine national security by allowing resources to continue to be diverted to wasteful spending in defense budgets.
The fallacy that the only alternative to the sequester is hiking taxes to pay for defense was exposed when the House passed the Paul Ryan budget—which replaces the sequester with mandatory savings elsewhere, with no tax hikes. The appropriations process now offers several opportunities for lawmakers to champion smart defense spending decisions now.
Both the House and Senate defense authorization bill and House appropriations bill contain efforts to pinpoint waste (dispelling, once again, the myth that national security is undermined by any cuts to defense accounts) but the test remains whether the Senate Appropriations Committee will reach to do the same.
Take, for instance, the ongoing debate regarding missile defense systems. Over the last twenty years, the Pentagon has funded two different programs with remarkably different results. Over ten years after its inception, the Army began another program to improve the successful Patriot missile program. Over a decade later, the new program, the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS), has become far more expensive than upgrading the Patriot system and become so impractical the Pentagon has announced it has no intention of actually procuring it. Like the famed F-135 alternate engine earmark, funds continue to be obligated for MEADS, despite decades of spending on a project that has yet to yield an actual product.
The program also proves the folly of offering tax hikes in place of the sequester; it would simply keep the tab open for this kind of waste to continue. Moreover, cancellation of the project is as simple as refusing to toss more cash down the MEADS black hole. Hundreds of millions could be saved if appropriators simply refuse to underwrite amorphous “cancellation costs.” These savings would have no impact on national security since the program will never be put to use anyway.
The article can be found in its entirety here. See the blogroll to watch Duppler discussing more budget and tax issues on Fox Business this week.