When most people hear the term “Republican,” the first thing that comes to mind is a hardworking American who holds the ideals of fiscal responsibility and limited government sacred, especially on a federal level. A Republican is not usually willing to compromise on issues of government spending, even when his or her party effectively dictates the size and scope of the federal budget. In this pivotal moment, we must carefully examine where our legislators are appropriating our tax dollars, and encourage our friends across the political aisle to do the same.
Our current national debt is just shy of $20 trillion, our current unfunded liabilities more than $105 trillion and each U.S. citizen (not taxpayer) owes on average a total debt of over $200 thousand. This is unsustainable. It used to be that we had to grapple with a $14 trillion debt, but thanks primarily to the Obama administration and the previous Congress’s recklessness, our plight has almost become insurmountable.
Politics enters the equation when it comes time to offer a solution to this massive fiscal crisis, with Republicans suggesting spending cuts and Democrats urging tax increases. The truth is, we are eventually going to need both. For now, however, in this fiscal year under this new president, we need to determine what must be trimmed and what must be preserved or bolstered.
President Trump is not ignorant of our quandary ¬– in his address to the National Governors’ Association this past week he said, “we are going to do more with less, and make the government lean and accountable to the people … the government must learn to tighten its belt.” These sentiments are reassuring, and even the most fanatical leftist should be able to agree that a more efficient government is a healthier government.
It must be said that some of President Trump’s goals and habits are not reflective of the conservative ethos; his trade policies and outlook on Russia are testaments to that. His proposed increase in military spending, however, does not conflict with conservative ideals, nor does it constitute an illegitimate usage of federal monies.
In fact, the primary purpose of the federal government is to defend our nation and its interests. President Trump has previously said, “this budget will be a public safety and national security budget.” What is so controversial about that? Those are really the only things the federal government should be doing in the first place.
With China set to increase its military budget by over seven percent next year, continuing hostilities in the Middle East and around the world, heightened Russian aggression and an emboldened Iran thanks to the weakness and capitulation(s) of our previous president, the U.S. must increase military spending to retain our global supremacy and effectiveness.
Our military has incontrovertibly lost some of its readiness capabilities since the sequester in 2013 forced many of our brave soldiers to go on unpaid furloughs and prevented the revitalization of much of our aging equipment. This commander in chief intends to reverse these trends, and I applaud him for his resolve.
We cannot let the world devolve into chaos – our nation has long stood for values that cannot be allowed to be forgotten. Our military serves as the bulwark against evil and authoritarianism, and is the force that allows us to project our influence and goodwill into the most inhospitable and backward corners of the earth. The brave men and women who sacrifice so much for us deserve to have the best and most effective equipment and training we can provide.
Yes, money is tight, but perhaps we can look to other parts of the budget for relief… How about all the money we spend on “education,” government grant projects that are completely a waste of time and money, “housing and development” or even the mandatory spending on Medicare and Social Security which is out of control, for starters?
A time will come when we must decide where to draw the line on ineffective federal spending. Perhaps the border wall or the war on drugs will be that line, but military spending certainly is not.
Ryan Schelwat is a member of the Hofstra Republicans.
The views and opinions expressed in the Op-Ed section are those of the authors of the articles. They are not an endorsement of the views of The Chronicle or its staff. The Chronicle does not discriminate based on the opinions of the authors.