Swords or plowshares? Why doesn't the Pentagon have to hold a bake sale to buy aircraft carriers? This eternal false construction comes up whenever the left wants to gut defense and do some redistribution of wealth. Mackenzie Eaglen has an excellent deconstruction of this in the WSJ that points out the very buttery flavor of the defense budget.
Absent strategic vision and planning from the White House or the Pentagon, aerospace and defense companies aren't waiting to act. They've stopped hiring, halted investing in infrastructure, and begun preemptively consolidating. Research and development is slowing, and mergers and acquisitions are being sidelined, as investors wait for a signal.
The bottom line is that good-paying American jobs are being lost because the Obama team prefers to throw money at social programs of marginal utility at best. As big as the defense budget is, it is almost a rounding error when placed next to the massive entitlement programs that are about to take us off a financial cliff a la Thelma and Louise. But it is easy to demagogue about war-mongers and defense contractor profiteering, while ignoring the fact that every cut puts another American worker in the unemployment line.
The defense budget, and the bureaucracy that spends it, are far from perfect as Eaglen notes in her piece. But the answer is not to take a battle axe to the whole thing and start lopping off limbs via sequestration. Balancing the budget can't be done, by crippling the institution that serves as guarantor of our freedom and of free trade around the world. The US military ensures that the global economy can operate and the people who make our military run are vital parts of our own economy. Let's not hurt them in a misguided effort that makes the country and the world less safe as well.