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Frank, Task Force, Urge Pentagon Role in Deficit Reduction
Cite Potential Savings of Nearly $1 Trillion Over Ten Years
WASHINGTON - August 11 - House Financial Services Chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.), along with a bipartisan task force that includes members of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, Cato Institute, Center for Defense Information and others, announced the release today of a new report that identifies $960 billion in Pentagon budget savings that can be generated over the next ten years from realistic reductions in defense spending. The report was produced by the Sustainable Defense Task Force, a group convened in response to a request from Rep. Frank to explore options for reducing the defense budget's contribution to the federal deficit without compromising the essential security of the United States.
"I do not believe after this [proposed plan] is circulated that people will be able to dismiss the argument that you can responsibly, and at no cost to America's genuine security, make reductions of over a trillion dollars for what has been proposed for the military budget," said Frank.
The report comes at a time when the federal deficit is drawing increasing attention from policymakers in Washington. President Obama has appointed a National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform to look at long-term budgetary trends; the administration's new National Security Strategy has argued that we need to "grow our economy and reduce our deficit" if we are to ensure continued U.S. strength and influence abroad; Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has spoken of eliminating unnecessary weapons systems and reducing overhead costs at the Pentagon; and key Congressional leaders are speaking of a bottom-up review of defense spending to look for potential cuts.
"The legacy of the recent economic crisis will be a high debt that must be addressed across the board; any consideration of the deficit cannot exclude defense spending," said Laicie Olson of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, an author of the report. In making the case for substantial reductions, the report notes that further reductions in the U.S. nuclear arsenal and limits on the planned modernization of the nuclear weapons infrastructure could save approximately $140 billion over 10 years. When missile defense and space spending are also selectively curtailed, that number is increased to $194.5 billion.
"Current U.S. nuclear forces are far in excess of what is needed to deter a nuclear attack on the U.S. and its allies; a reduction in the number of nuclear weapons could help put the U.S. on the path to fiscal responsibility," said Laicie Olson.
Frank agrees, when asked what his top three priorities might be for realistic savings within the defense budget, he included both nuclear weapons and missile defense.
The full report may be downloaded here.The Sustainable Defense Task Force
Carl Conetta, Project on Defense Alternatives
Benjamin Friedman, Cato Institute
William D. Hartung, New America Foundation
Christopher Hellman, National Priorities Project
Heather Hurlburt, National Security Network
Charles Knight, Project on Defense Alternatives
Lawrence J. Korb, Center for American Progress
Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action
Laicie Olson, Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation
Miriam Pemberton, Institute for Policy Studies
Laura Peterson, Taxpayers for Common Sense
Prasannan Parthasarathi, Boston College
Christopher Preble, Cato Institute
Winslow Wheeler, Center for Defense Information