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View From the Capitol: Objecting to defense spending reductionPosted Friday, January 6, 2012, at 6:06 PM
The first full week of the year has not been a good one for America's national defense. President Obama announced a new defense strategy that House Armed Services Chairman "Buck" McKeon has appropriately described as "a lead from behind strategy for a left-behind America."
While legislation to raise the debt ceiling, which I voted against, enacted defense cuts, the road map released by the Obama Administration provides the president's vision for implementation of a significant weakening of our defense capabilities.
This short-sighted strategy has abandoned plans for fighting two major wars at the same time while cutting America's nuclear arsenal. Additionally, it reduces funding for our national defense along with troop reductions. This dangerous move puts America's national security at risk. President Obama's wish to cut defense spending will allow him to spend more on failed social programs, which is an idea he proposed in July of 2011 when, speaking of the defense budget, stated: "It's so big that you can make relatively modest changes to defense that end up giving you a lot of headroom to fund things like basic research or student loans or things like that."
I don't call these cuts 'modest changes.' I call them 'major changes' which could jeopardize our national security. While domestic spending has its place; it should be limited. There are only a few things the federal government should be doing and, most importantly, it is to "provide for the common defense."
While the President will wait until February to announce the specifics on his budget cut and troop reduction figures, it is clear that our military will experience at least a $400 billion cut over the next 12 years. Also, a 10-15 percent decline in Army and Marine Corps numbers over the next decade can be expected. This would amount to cutting tens of thousands of ground troops in strategic locations throughout the world.
This new policy is a significant departure from the strategy embraced by previous administrations -- both Republican and Democrat. It does not acknowledge the current global security environment, which could well be the most dangerous we have seen in a generation.
This ill-advised policy ignores our continued commitment of forces in Afghanistan and the impact austerity measures will have on their ability to successfully complete their mission. Additionally, it tosses aside a half century of U.S. global force presence, which has been the backbone of global security. And, from a strategic position, it does not make clear how a smaller nuclear force will provide a successful deterrence from the possibility of rogue nations like North Korea using Weapons of Mass Destruction.
We must all accept that America faces a deficit crisis and that reducing the deficit is a national priority, but our nation must not solve our deficit problem on the back of the military. As Americans, we must stand strong for our national security while opposing ever-increasing and nonsensical out-of-control spending.
It is always a pleasure to hear from you and to listen to your views and concerns. If you plan to visit the Washington area, please stop by our office at 1023 Longworth House Office Building. In the 4th Congressional District, you are welcome to come by our offices in Jefferson City, Harrisonville, Lebanon and Sedalia. You can also keep up with us by going to our website at www.hartzler.house.gov where you can link to our pages on Facebook and Twitter. It is an honor to serve you.
Have a good week.
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Vicky Hartzler is the U.S. representative for Missouri's 4th Congressional District. She was raised on a farm in Archie, and lives with her husband, Lowell and daughter, Tiffany, on a working farm in Cass County. She is a graduate of both the University of Missouri-Columbia in 1983 and Central Missouri State University (now University of Central Missouri) in 1992, graduating summa cum laude with a B.S. in Education from MU and a M.S. in Education from Central Missouri. For more information, visit http://hartzler.house.gov.
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