Edmonds Military Wire: Debt crisis raises national security debate

Mike SchindlerBy Michael Schindler

“I haven’t changed my view that the continually increasing debt is the biggest threat we have to our national security.” — Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, August 2011.

Talk about a cliff hanger…that has gone on for months. Our elected officials can’t seem to shake loose a bit of good cheer and solve a constitutional issue of passing a budget or coming to terms on how the American people should be or will be taxed.

And while the debate stirs and festers, we in our communities need to be prepared on several fronts. After all, if this debt is the biggest threat to our security, we must ask ourselves if we are prepared to face the fallout.

Some say the easiest solution and answer to our problem is to cut significantly from defense, which will happen. To think cutting defense is the panacea is a myth, anchored more in political bias as opposed to numbers. We can, and should, exercise more efficiency in the defense sector (which will require strategic job and project cuts), but understand that significant cuts now means even more “reactive” job and project losses in an stalled economy and an increase to everyday security threats – because these cuts will have a ripple – all the way down to the local level.

Is it better to equipped to prevent a crisis or have “just enough” resources to react to a crisis? Offense or defense?

The Defense Department, in their efforts to be on the offense, is committed to cutting $400 billion from its budget in the next 10 to 12 years. But these are strategic cuts – come JAN 2013 they will also face very hard to swallow “reactive” cuts.

As Admiral Mullen notes, “The resources that our military uses are directly related to the health of our economy.” He goes on to point out that the $600 billion in interest on the debt in 2012 equaled “one year’s worth of defense budget.”

Let me put this Fiscal Cliff issue into an understandable perspective (and I have my East Coast friend to thank for this):

Our U.S. Tax Revenue is: $2,170,000,000,000

FED Budget: $3,820,000,000,000

New Debt: $1,650,000,000,000

National Debt: $16,271,000,000,000

Recent Budget Cuts: $38,500,000,000

Now remove the 8 zeros and think of this as your household budget using the same numbers:

Annual family income: $21,700

Money the family spent: $38,200

New debt on the credit card: $16,500

Outstanding balance on the credit card: $162,710

Total budget cuts so far: $385.00

I’m no math genius but there does seem to be a problem here. Is the answer “really” to raise the debt ceiling? Has one successfully figured out how to spend their way out of debt? If so, please share.

Here is what we will all need to prepare for: a reduction in services, benefits, and resources as well as an increase in taxes. I know – this really is not a popular position to take. I’ve had to exercise the same measures at my company – except for the tax part – the government will do that to me and for me.

As we all prepare to toast in the New Year, think on this: with 1 million service members expected to cycle back into our communities over the next several years, with $536 billion in 2013 tax hikes expected to hit come the new year, and with nearly 90 percent of households facing an average tax increase close to $3500 (this according to Investor Business Journal), how are you preparing to deal with the looming threat?

Or maybe you don’t want to “think on this” and just toast in the New Year. Either way, Happy New Year!

Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Edmonds-based Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include  “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.”  He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.


2 Replies to “Edmonds Military Wire: Debt crisis raises national security debate”

  1. Michael:

    I very much like your summary of the situation. Your comparison to a household budget is the best analogy I’ve seen.


  2. Ron, thanks. An acquaintance of mine on the East Coast boiled the budget down and shot it to me. I am with you in that this example really sheds light on the reality of what we are facing.


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