President Barack Obama shares Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s concern that pending security cuts will turn the United States into a “second rate power” according to White House spokesman Jay Carney at a press briefing on Thursday, despite the fact the U.S. spends more on defense than the next 17 countries combined.
“…the across-the-board, indiscriminate cuts to defense will harm our national security interests, will reduce our readiness, will result in a reduction in flight hours, will result — have resulted already in changes in our rotation for aircraft carriers to the Persian Gulf. These are real-world consequences. They also will result, as we learned yesterday, in hundreds of thousands of furlough notices to the men and women who are part of the national security team who work every day to protect the United States and our citizens.”
Carney accused congressional Republicans of not caring about the perilous security situation because they are unwilling to adopt Obama’s deficit reduction plan which is driven by tax increases on the wealthy.
“They’re not willing to protect the jobs of what the CBO predicts could be up to 750,000 Americans by asking oil and gas companies to forego their taxpayer subsidies or corporate jet owners to give up their special tax break.”
Senator Bernie Sanders captured the reality of the situation in a single tweet earlier this year: “The US has tripled its defense spending since 1997 and spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined.”
It is also important to understand the context of the spending cuts in terms of relative geopolitical power, considering the U.S. spends nearly six times as much as its nearest rival, China.