Lamborn, GOP colleagues unserious about spending, debt, competitiveness

Overall taxpayer money delivered to the Pentagon and its contractors in 2010 will add up to well more than an all-time record-breaking $1.01 trillion. As has been widely reported, Defense Secretary Robert Gates asked the new fiscal-conservative Republican Congress to consider cutting the Pentagon budget by $80 billion over the next five years, meaning the Defense budget will still rise in that time but not by as much as it would have done. Republicans derided the proposal, arguing that the country was at war and that there was plenty of spending to be cut elsewhere. As the 112th conservative Congress got underway, Colorado GOP Rep. Doug Lamborn, for example, introduced two bills that would strip public broadcasting of roughly $500 million per year. Lamborn’s bills won’t pass. China meantime is serious about taking over the reins of the world economy. It is spending a fraction of what the U.S. spends on Defense and double what the U.S. spends on the clean energy technologies of the future– and it is selling those technologies and its expertise in creating them to customers around the world including to the cash-strapped U.S.A.

“Apart from any ideological component,” Lamborn told the Washington Post about his proposed PBS/NPR cuts, “the fact is we can’t support a luxury service that could stand on its own in a day of multitrillion-dollar deficits.”

As the Colorado Independent has reported, the military spending in earmarks alone that Lamborn has racked up in his short time in office would suggest, ideological components aside, that his concerns about the deficit and big government spending are contextual.

Another early spending cut proposed by the new GOP Congressional majority would impose a 5 percent cut to lawmaker office budgets, a savings of roughly $35 million. But those costs have risen by 14 percent since 2008. Why not cut 14 percent? Observers have mocked the GOP proposal as exactly the kind of plan designed to prove skeptics right about the half-measure addicted-to-spending culture of Washington and about 2010 as the year of Tea Party pandering.

In the discussion in Washington over whether to even consider Secretary Gates’s proposed cuts, Chair of the House Armed Services Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee Todd Akin (R-MO) said the suggested trimming was just part of the “liberal priorities of [the Obama] Administration.”

Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Buck McKeon (R-CA) said lawmakers should take the proposed savings and reinvest it into the military.

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) mentioned that in proposing the military cuts, the Obama Administration and Secretary Gates had not considered the “threat we face from China.”

Earlier, Akin also brought up China as a reason to expand not cut Defense spending. According to the online Defense and acquisitions journal DODBuzz, Akin said the Gates proposal “ignored long-term strategic threats” because “many programs that received funding were those designed to overcome high-end threats being developed by nations like China.”

As the U.K. Guardian reports this week, there is a serious threat posed to the U.S. by China and it’s one the GOP proposals seem designed to fail to meet. It’s a threat exacerbated over decades by U.S. spending priorities.

China today hosts a network of passenger trains that run at more than 200 miles an hour between the country’s major cities. Planners in the U.S. so far can’t decide on where to lay tracks for a single high-speed rail line in California, a project that sees General Electric partnering with the Chinese CSR Corp. to get it done. D.C.-based analyst Miriam Pemberton told the Guardian that China is providing the bulk of the financing, expertise and ingenuity for the California project. GE has added $50 million and government stimulus funds are paying for part of the project, too. Pemberton said it’s one of many examples where the U.S. is the lagging partner.

“It’s glaringly clear that we have neglected what should be a core part of our infrastructure,” she said. “Instead, we’re intent on funding and manufacturing weapons systems.”

In a 2009 report, Pemberton argued that every $1 billion the government spends to manufacture weapons creates 8,555 jobs. She said the same amount invested in mass transit would create 19,795 jobs. The same amount invested in weatherization or infrastructure would create 12,804 jobs.

In 2008, the U.S. spent $1 in clean energy and climate change technology for every $94 it spent on the military. China spends $1 on clean energy and climate change technology for every $3 it spends on the military. The U.S. spends more on its military than the 14 next-highest-military-spending countries in the world combined.

[Images: Above: Slim Pickens and, Right: Rep. Lamborn ]

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Hat-tip A. Pareene.

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