Early in his administration, President Obama pledged to cut the federal deficit in half. But judging from his recent budget proposal, to say Obama has not kept his promise would be an understatement.
Determined to keep Americans drowning in debt, Obama wants to increase federal spending from $3.8 trillion in 2013 to $5.8 trillion in 2022, a whopping 53 percent increase in 10 years. At least $6.7 trillion would be added to the federal deficit during that time, bringing the debt-to-GDP ratio to a crushing 76.5 percent.
The slow ending of the Afghanistan war gave the Obama administration room for an $800 billion Washington-style accounting gimmick, where borrowed money that would not have been used is counted as saved. In terms of actual cuts in defense spending, Obama is shifting the focus from what is known to work in missile defense to developing futuristic missile intercepts that will require years of experimenting at great expense to taxpayers while a vulnerable America waits.
It has become obvious that America faces increasing nuclear threats from hostile regimes like Iran and North Korea. In June, Iran announced it is planning to triple its capacity to produce 20 percent enriched uranium, which can easily be converted to weapons-grade material. Iranian President Ahmadinejad plans to make a major announcement about Iran’s advancement in its atomic program, a move meant to show how increased U.N. sanctions have failed to halt Iran’s technical progress.
Our first line of defense against short and intermediate-range airborne attacks is the Standard Missile 3 (SM-3), which can intercept enemy missiles while in flight. Their proven track record is why they are also essential to the NATO effort in Europe to defend against missiles from hostile nations.
Yet, despite the SM-3’s impressive performance history and expanding capabilities that will ultimately protect our homeland from a long-range missile attack, President Obama has all but turned his back on the missile. In his newly released budget, the president cuts funding for the newest evolution of SM-3 (known as IB), which will result in 52 percent fewer missiles, even though commanders in theater have consistently complained about shortages. The president’s $300 million reduction may also slow production, which could make the new missile delivery date of 2015 very difficult to meet.
The timing couldn’t be worse considering Defense Secretary Leon Panetta predicted last month that Iran would be capable of launching a nuclear missile at the U.S. as soon as 2014.
But President Obama’s short-sightedness doesn’t end there. He also wants to chop funding for the first missile that will be able to protect us against an ICBM attack; meanwhile, he wants to pour $224 million into a sophisticated and tedious missile program that is on life-support.
The missile, known as IIB, is but a back-of-the napkin concept that will not be ready for deployment until 2020, at the earliest. In a bipartisan move this past December, Congress virtually eliminated the 2012 budget for the program. The message was clear: We have more urgent budget priorities and current threats demand we deploy a missile to protect the continental United States much sooner than 2020.
Apparently, President Obama did not receive that message from Congress. Obama has unilaterally decided to shift resources toward more complex future missile variants — a process notorious for being obscenely over-budget and off-schedule — while rejecting Congress’s more sensible approach to fiscal responsibility and a more robust national defense.
President Obama’s decisions on missile defense will create a multiple-year window where a country such as Iran could strike before our new SM-3s are in place. By reversing course, not only would taxpayer dollars be used more effectively, America would be properly protected from enemies well into the future.
J. Kenneth Blackwell is a former Ohio Treasurer and Secretary of State and former U.N. Ambassador. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the Club for Growth.