WASHINGTON, D.C. —
Last month, President Obama filed his annual budget blueprint for fiscal year 2015. While the contents of his proposal have been a major topic of discussion in the news since then, its official release on March 4 will determine the next steps for lawmakers, who must work together to ultimately find a common agreement.
Upon filing his funding recommendations for next year, it was revealed that the president intends to abandon his previous efforts to cut spending and reform entitlements. In particular, we’ve discovered that the president has chosen to ignore his previously recommended changes to cost-of-living increases in Social Security and other programs that Republicans supported. I am deeply disappointed that President Obama has chosen to release a budget that ignores our nation’s sobering fiscal reality, abandons his own promises and fails to put real ideas on the table.
In addition, we recently learned that the president intends to drastically change the force structure of our military. Last week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel revealed structural changes to the Department of Defense. Among many of the proposed changes, the Army would see a reduction from 522,000 soldiers to between 450,000 and 490,000; the Army National Guard would see a reduction from 355,000 to 335,000 by 2017. These are staggering numbers.
Whether we chose to be or not, America is the “cop on the beat” around the world. The strength of our presence and military readiness speaks to both our enemies and allies. When our military is weak, our nation is seen as a target by our enemies and less stable or dependable to our allies. Making our military weaker inevitably makes the world more dangerous and runs the risk of increasing the number and severity of conflicts around the globe.
No amount of technology or restructuring can compensate for the massive hole the president intends to make in our nation’s military. Under the administration’s proposed military budget, America’s forces would experience the greatest downsizing since World War II and no longer be able to sustain prolonged stability operations. Expecting that the world is safe enough to justify such changes shows just how little the president understands the use of deterrence and the strategic importance of a robust military.
With these proposed changes to our military, the president would leave America militarily weaker than he found it. If enacted, the president’s proposal would place America and the men and women who serve it in uniform at great risk in the years ahead. His proposal would limit the options available to his successors and increase the dangers we face as a nation. In the months ahead, I hope Congress chooses to reject the president’s recommended funding strategy for the defense budget by maintaining our force levels and keeping faith with the members of our armed forces and their families.
In the coming days, as we unpack all the proposed items in the president’s budget, beyond changes to defense and addressing entitlements, I hope that we can work together to find common ground that serves the best interests of our nation.
U.S. REP. TOM COLE, R-Moore, represents Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District.