Obama’s budget cuts on U.S. security unconstitutional, say experts
~~~By Jim Kouri~~~~~President Barack Obama’s planned defense and national security budget cuts are expected to have an adverse impact on the U.S. Coast Guard’s ability to perform its constitutional duty as both a law enforcement agency and branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, according to a Heritage Foundation study by Mackenzie Eaglen and Jim Dolbow.
The reduction in resources comes at a time when most security experts believe more is needed to protect the U.S. and its interests in the midst of threats and attacks by international terrorists.
However, because of the ignorance of political leaders regarding their constitutional duties — or because they find it expedient to ignore those duties — they fail to protect the integrity of the U.S. Armed Forces, according security experts.
As documented in The Heritage Foundation’s Budget Chart Book, even eliminating all defense spending would not solve the federal spending crisis. Since 1976, annual entitlement spending has exceeded defense spending, even with the cost of wars such as Iraq and Afghanistan.
Because entitlement spending has tripled while defense spending declined as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP), entitlement spending (Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security) is now 10 percent of GDP, whereas defense spending is only 5 percent.
Defense spending is now 20.1 percent of federal outlays. Yet some, such as President Obama, want the brunt of spending cutbacks to come from the military. Obama’s revised (but not detailed) plan for fiscal year (FY) 2012 calls for $400 billion in defense cuts over the next 10 years, mostly by canceling or delaying over 50 major weapons programs.
President Bill Clinton upon taking office had a similar plan. Of the 305,000 employees removed from the federal payroll, 286,000 (or 90%) were military cuts.The statistics for America’s defense during the Clinton years reveal the deep-seated animosity of the administration toward those who served in the military. The Army was cut from 18 divisions to 12. The Navy was reduced from 546 ships to 380. Air Force flight squadrons were cut from 76 to 50.
Obama’s budget cut request for the Coast Guard weighs the prospect of reducing the Maritime Safety & Security Teams from 12 units to seven as well as retiring nine aircraft and five Coast Guard cutters.
“Congress should hold oversight hearings and require a study to determine both Coast Guard law enforcement specialist requirements and an associate national training structure,” wrote Eaglen and Dolbow.
Such hearings and subsequent report(s) would pressure the White House and Obama’s so-called security team develop a real security and safety plan for maritime response with standards for local, state, and federal maritime law enforcement. Congress should also demand that the current commandant submit an unfunded priorities list to House and Senate committee members detailing the downside of using an axe rather than a scalpel in making budget cuts.
The Heritage report states that “Congress should reject the maritime team cuts and examine whether the MSSTs—to be fully effective—need to be expanded to 17 with additional helicopters and more specialized training.”
Established in the aftermath of 9/11, the MSSTs were created to detect and intercept criminal or catastrophic risks well beyond U.S. shores.
The U.S. Coast Guard suffered drastic cuts under President Bill Clinton in the 1990s that became part of his so-called Peace Dividend. It practically languished as part of the Transportation Department. Following the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 and the creation of the Homeland Security Department, the Coast Guard held a unique position. On one hand, it was folded into the new department with other agencies such as the U.S. Border Patrol, and on the other hand it would serve as part of the Department of Defense if needed, according to DHS officials.
In fact, Eaglen and Dolbow point out in their study that the Coast Guard’s “current end-strength already constitutes a substantial reduction from the level it achieved at the end of World War II, with some 1,677 vessels (including 600 cutters) and 171,192 personnel.”
“Such a reduction is curious to say the least, given that the service is a force multiplier, providing both a law enforcement force and a defense force at a relative bargain,” they stated.
Eleven months after moving into the Oval Office, President Obama’s handpicked Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Robert Papp drew up a memorandum that addressed the downside of reductions to the Coast Guard’s budget such as doing away with the service’s on Marine Security Response Team. The Commandant pointed out that several federal agencies had better equipped and trained tactical (SWAT) teams such as the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the U.S. Secret Service and even the Department of Energy.
Congress should stop Obama from gutting the already depleted Coast Guard budget, according to security and law enforcement experts.
Eaglen and Dolbow confirm that the U.S. Coast Guard is the only federal agency with dual Title 10 and Title 14 law enforcement and regulatory authorities. These unique authorities, diverse capabilities, and potential to accept multiple sources of funding allow the Coast Guard to operate alone on the seam between national security and law enforcement threats, they maintain.
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