This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Ken Blackwell and ACRU Senior Legal Analyst Ken Klukowski was published February 15, 2012 on Townhall.com.
Early in his administration, President Obama pledged to cut the federal deficit in half. But in his recent budget proposal, to say Obama has not kept his promise is an understatement.
Determined to keep Americans drowning in debt, Obama proposes to accelerate federal spending $3.8 trillion in 2013 to $5.8 trillion in 2022, a whopping increase of 53 percent. By spending more than $45 trillion in the next 10 years, the most generous accounting would assume $6.7 trillion would be added to the federal deficit, bringing 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 which 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 was planning to triple its capacity to produce 20 percent enriched uranium, which can easily be converted to weapons-grade material. This week, Iranian President Ahmadinejad plans a major announcement for Iran’s advancement in its atomic program, a move 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 while 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 U.S. 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. At the same time the President chopped funding for the first missile that will be able to protect us against an ICBM attack, he chose 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. After spending millions on development, 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 the Congress’ 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 will be properly protected from enemies well into the future.