Why a Dog Is More Qualified for Congress Than Robert Hurt

The Charlottesville Daily Progress, to its credit, did something that I don’t think it or most small-town newspapers have done before, and certainly have not done often: it wrote about the local congress member’s position on military spending. Sure it’s where half of our income taxes go, but it’s hardly ever mentioned.

Hurt told the paper that he wants to cut spending, but not in the military: “I think everybody would agree that national defense is a top priority for our government and really for any government.” Does Hurt really think that? Because this is where a dog being better qualified for Congress than Hurt comes in.

The United States could cut 85% of its military and still have the largest one in the world. So, clearly no other country in the world treats the military as exactly the same sort of priority that the U.S. government does. The only countries that compete with the United States in terms of per-capita military spending, such as Israel, get most of the money they spend on weapons donated to them by the U.S. government.

So much for “and really any government.”

What about this part: “everybody would agree that national defense is a top priority for our government”?

Is that true? Is it true in the sense that Hurt intends, namely that nobody wants military spending cut? When the New York Times / CBS News recently asked people where to cut spending, these are the percentages of Americans who named particular areas:

* military spending: 55%
* Medicare: 21%
* Social Security: 13%

So “everybody” agrees with Hurt, except for 55% of us? The Program for Public Consultation surveyed Americans in March, showing them the federal budget and asking what funding should be moved where. On average, people cut the military by 18% and spying/secret war agencies by 15%. And yet “everybody” agrees with Hurt that the military must not be cut?

Perhaps everybody agrees that “national defense” should not be cut, but when the military is waging wars that make us less safe, pouring gasoline on hostile fires, draining our economy, shredding our civil liberties, demolishing the natural environment, and proliferating weaponry, clearly your average American does not equate unlimited military spending with defense.

The Daily Progress article went on to claim that moving Leon Panetta to the Pentagon “is likely to bring even more scrutiny to defense spending levels.” Even more? My goodness, does that mean there has been some?

Military spending has been increasing every year and has just about doubled in the past decade. We’re going to see even more scrutiny than that? Wow!

Panetta, the newspaper tells us, “is widely expected to push for deeper defense cuts.” Really? Deeper than increases? Expected by whom? I’ve seen the pundits predicting that but I haven’t met any flesh and blood people who take it seriously. Nor have I seen a single quote to that effect from Panetta. Wouldn’t asking him make sense? Doesn’t he have a say in what he is expected to push for?

We’re further told in this article that the President has proposed cutting $400 billion from the military over 12 years. But, here’s the thing. Obama doesn’t get to be president for 12 years. Just before proposing this, he claimed to have already cut $400 billion during his tenure in which — in reality — military spending has increased two — going on three — times. And every previous claim Obama has made about military cuts has involved theoretical cuts to future dream budgets that would leave the actual budgets larger than those that preceded them. Thus is an increase a cut. Which makes sense, I suppose, when a war prize is a peace prize.

Hurt said that he favored much smaller cuts, (smaller than nothing!), but the cuts he favors are likewise smaller cuts to future dream budgets, not actual reductions from this year’s budget to the budget of any future year.

So, the Daily Progress asked Hurt about wars, and he claimed to support any warmaking in Iraq or Afghanistan but not Libya. In the past, Hurt has avoided taking a position on Libya, so this is actually progress. But it’s interesting how far he is trailing the American public on the other wars.

The polls consistently show a strong majority wanting out of Afghanistan:

-By 73% to 21% Americans say: withdraw a substantial number of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan this summer — ABC/Washington Post
-By 63% to 30% Americans want complete withdrawal — Bloomberg
-By 72% to 25% Americans want to speed up the withdrawal — USA Today / Gallup
-By 53% to 39% Americans say U.S. troops should not be involved in Afghanistan — CBS
-By 50% to 44% Americans say: remove all troops ASAP — Pew
-By 64% to 31% Americans say the war has not been worth fighting — ABC / Washington Post
-By 58% to 40% Americans oppose the war — CNN / Opinion Research Corporation

Similarly, the public wants out of Iraq and has even turned against the Libya War and done so more swiftly than with any previous war. The public also overwhelmingly wants Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid left alone as the trusts we were promised they would be. Hurt, in contrast, wants the cuts made there.

Even the local Jefferson Area Tea Party, notoriously silent on military spending, has actually criticized Hurt for voting in an unsuccessful attempt to save a useless and redundant jet fighter engine program that even the Pentagon didn’t want. Hurt seems to be addicted to military spending.

Hurt was introduced at this week’s local speaking event with the words “He’s an avid outdoorsman, fisherman, hunter. With all the big fish and turkeys in Washington, he’s going to have some fun.”

Given the recent assassination attempt on one of Hurt’s colleagues, he knew better than to joke about hunting people in Washington.

But he did so anyway, remarking: “In Washington, there is no turkey season. It’s open season all the time.”

Even a dog is smart enough not to piss in the wind.

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