The next time someone claims that the one place the United States cannot cut spending at all is the military because of devastating national security implications, point them to budget hawk Senator Tom Coburn’s (R-Okla.) recent report “Department of Everything.”
Coburn argues in his report that the United States could cut $67.9 billion from its bloated military budget over the course of a decade by cutting “non-defense” defense spending.
“I believe in peace through strength but we cannot be strong militarily unless we are strong economically. And we cannot be strong economically if we treat politically-sensitive areas of the budget as sacrosanct. At a time when our own military leaders are calling our debt our greatest national security threat we need to look at every area of the budget for potential savings. No part of the budget can be taken off the table. Achieving peace through strength, and getting our debt under control, must involve refocusing the Pentagon on its core mission,” Coburn said.
Some of the over-the-top expenditures Coburn says fell under the Defense budget included:
- $300,000 for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research to fund Brown University’s research into archaeopteryx, the 150-million-year-old early bird. Researchers determined the creature likely had black feathers.
- Money for the Office of Naval Research to develop an iPhone app, Caffeine Zone 2, which helps people manage coffee breaks.
- $100,000 for a workshop on space travel, including a lecture called “Did Jesus Die For Klingons Too?” which discussed Christian theology and aliens.
- Money for Pentagon researchers to study fish in order to determine “if ignorance can save democracy.”
- $1.5 million for the development of beef jerky that looks like a Fruit Roll-up
Coburn also points out in his report that the United States military has more flag officers per troop than it did at the height of the Cold War and suggests “reducing general and flag officers from around 1,000 today to a Cold War ratio of five general officers per 10,000 troops (as opposed to the seven the Pentagon has today).” The report says that this would save the Department of Defense $800 million over the course of 10 years.