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Like businessman-turned-politician Mitt Romney before her, businesswoman-turned-former-candidate Carly Fiorina wants to broadly expand the size of the American military. While she was still campaigning, she often repeated her Heritage-Foundation-and-American-Enterprise-Institute-approved talking points, especially around warships, planes and tanks.
“What I would do, immediately, is begin rebuilding the Sixth Fleet...We need the strongest military on the face of the planet, and everyone has to know it. And, specifically, what that means is we need about 50 Army brigades, we need about 36 Marine battalions, we need somewhere between 300, and 350 naval ships, we need to upgrade every leg of the nuclear triad...”
Fiorina isn’t alone in her belief that the U.S. military needs to be larger. Jeb Bush promised to rebuild the military and increase its size and budget. Same with Marco Rubio, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee and Ben Carson. (According to both of the previous two links, Donald Trump both agrees and disagrees.) Cruz, Rubio and Trump all mentioned “rebuilding our military” in their speeches after South Carolina.
So I wanted Michael C to write a post explaining that while our military is smaller on the whole, it is more expensive and powerful. By far. Well, he already did...for the last election. Posted over at Tom Ricks’ blog “The Best Defense”, he explained how when it comes to the Department of Defense, even really smart business people like Mitt Romney lose their business acumen. It seems like Carly Fiorina (and possibly Donald Trump) have lost the same passion for fiscal discipline.
In that guest post, Michael C got to the core of the issue when it comes to the DoD’s budget: it isn’t about the sum totals; it is about efficiency. We pay way too much for every weapon system. And we don’t get quality anymore. The F-22 and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter are over-priced monstrosities that barely fly...and don’t even fly combat missions in our current wars. But they make defense contractors a fortune.
This talking point about the military isn’t even true. The Obama defense budget is arguably the largest budget in inflation-adjusted terms ever. Claiming we need to rebuild the military is like saying you need to upgrade your vehicle as you drive off the lot in a new car. You just bought one.
More to the point, Obama isn’t even cutting the budget; he actually increased it. At least, according to reality.