Wednesday, 06 July 2022
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The Heritage Foundation

The Wall Street Journal has recently reported on new evidence of Iran's effort to avoid UN imposed sanctions by acquiring high-grade metals from China, suitable for the production of ballistic missiles. In its article titled, "Fresh Clues of Iranian Nuclear Intrigue," The Wall Street Journal indicates that Iranian companies such as ABAN Commercial and Industrial Ltd. has been using intermediary firms to attain specialized copper, aluminum and titanium from China.

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By Baker Spring

Providing for the defense of the United States is the federal government's most important responsibility, and it is predominantly a federal responsibility that in most areas should not be delegated to lower echelons of government or to the private sector. Yet these truths seem to be missing from the Obama Administration's fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget request.

The Administration has requested a $702.8 billion defense budget for FY 2012, which is at least $36.5 billion below the estimated FY 2011 budget—a reduction of roughly 5 percent in nominal dollars or 6.4 percent in real (inflation-adjusted) dollars.

The Administration's five-year budget projection makes the misplaced priorities even more evident. In real dollars, the FY 2016 defense budget will be 13 percent below the estimated FY 2011 budget. This contrasts with a 17 percent increase in Medicare and a 16 percent increase in Social Security over the same period in real dollars. (See Chart 1.)



This pattern of fiscal restraint on core defense programs, but fiscal profligacy on entitlement (or mandatory) spending has been evident since the federal government took a "peace dividend" after the fall of the Soviet Union. Yet in today's budget debates against the backdrop of ballooning national debt and deficits and the tight economy, people too often point to defense spending as the culprit. It is not, as Secretary Robert Gates has explained:

Defense is not like other discretionary spending. This is something we've got to do and that we have a responsibility to do. And so the two shouldn't be equated. They have not been equated in the past. I mean, that's why they call it non-defense discretionary spending and so on.

...I got it that we've got a $1.6 trillion deficit. But defense is not a significant part of that problem. If you took a 10 percent cut in defense, which would be catastrophic in terms of capabilities, that would be $50 billion on a $1.6 trillion deficit.

Yet too many Members of Congress are not listening. There are growing calls on both sides of the political aisle to cut defense across the board, just like other discretionary programs.

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