Where Should Our Priorities Lie on Defense Cuts?

As the Unites States has exited one war and is winding down another, it appears people are now ready to make some changes in the amount of money going to the defense department.  National Journal reported the results of a study showing roughly three-quarters of the respondents, whether living in red or blue districts, want defense cuts.  The priorities in where the cuts should come from show a slight difference in what people from these districts want:

Blue-district voters wanted bigger cuts to missile defense, long perceived as a Republican-favored program, but “respondents in red districts were a bit more ready to cut health care benefits for military families and retirees,” which require government spending.

On the surface, this seems slightly callous toward the red districts but the amounts to be cut from the actual report should be noted, particularly on health care.  Red districts want $7.4 billion cut while blue districts want $6.6 billion, which is certainly a significant amount from both sides.  We should note this does not divide the results into party differences but by which way the district leans so we should not make definitive assumptions about this being a party-line difference.  However, we can make some inferences from this info about who wants to cut what and where in the defense budget.

The clear difference here is the interest on one side to cut more from programs (that are debatable in terms of success) and the other side to cut more from people, many of which have an obvious need for the health care provided.  Are we really seeing the right coming out in favor of cutting more from the veterans themselves while constantly trying to symbolically honor them at every opportunity instead of cutting questionable programs?  (Well, yes.)

There is little question the future of defense is in more technology and less actual people.  Drones are a perfect example and obviously the advances in technology are moving quickly.  But the question should be asked whether we have reached a point where cuts in veterans’ health care can and should be made now.  Coming off two wars with many physically and psychologically wounded soldiers it seems hard to believe we are there at this point.  This would mean a cut in health care for veterans at a critical time when the economy is weak and the likelihood they can absorb that cut is smaller.  Are our priorities truly in the right place?

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