Skip to comments.Mullen: Washington ‘Doing Handstands’ as if Grave Problem of National Debt ‘Has Gone Away’
Posted on 01/22/2014 7:26:17 PM PST by Kaslin
Fomer chairman of the Joint Chiefs says you can "pour the entire Pentagon budget" into the debt -- but it would have "minimal impact" without entitlement reform.
WASHINGTON The former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said at a breakfast Tuesday in Washington that the national security implications of the national debt are keeping him up at night, even as budget negotiators are doing handstands as if the problem has gone away.
Adm. Mike Mullen, who retired in 2011 after serving in parts of George W. Bushs last term and President Obamas first term, stressed at the Concerned Veterans for America event that the military is part of the solution to better outcomes around the world, but on a higher level its really about economies.
If you can create some stability in a peaceful environment, peoples standard of living will improve and economies will start to thrive, he said.
Mullen said he was delighted with the progress made through bipartisan budget and appropriations agreements in Congress, but I worry that it sends the signal that its over.
We just cant be the country that we are capable of if we just keep spending ourselves into oblivion, the four-star retired admiral warned. Its going to take sacrifice, quite frankly, on the part of everybody.
Even for all of the complaints about defense eating up the budget, Mullen said pouring the entire Pentagon budget into the debt still would have minimal impact without entitlement reform.
That includes means testing for entitlements, which he said hes happy to personally do. Those who can afford a little more need to pay a little more, as far as Im concerned, he said, instead of a mentality of they feel entitled to this whether they need it or not or you owe me this, whether or not you need it.
The recent bipartisan cooperation is hopefully a harbinger of steps to be taken in the future on broader reform. I would hope its the beginning of being able to turn it around.
Within the Pentagon, he notes that the overhead has grown enormously over the past couple of decades. The force is going to get a little smaller, Mullen said, stressing that a budget-strapped department needs to customize our force for the world were living in.
We have a bad history in this country of ignoring the lessons, then just moving forward and starting all over again, he said.
In addition to the debt, four other issues weigh heavy on Mullens mind when worrying about the future of America.
One is K-12 education, where he believes one of the problems is teachers are not valued in the country, while another is the political paralysis in Washington. I hope leadership in the country at large can figure out a way to get us moving in a positive direction before we have some catastrophic event, he said.
Mullen also worries about cyber attacks and the ability of policy makers without technical backgrounds to understand the gravity of the threat. I understand how lethal it is, he said, noting that the hacking of Target customers credit card data speaks to the scale of the capability in the cyber world.
The fifth big challenge is caring for this nations veterans who are facing very tough employment numbers as well as health and education challenges though he thinks the answer is found on a local scale instead of within Washington.
I find this sea of goodwill out there on the part of the American people; you need local leaders to galvanize that, Mullen said, stressing that service members are leaving at 1,000 a day, which is normal, and were hiring them at about 100 a day.
But the admiral said its also important that the military retain the best of the best. After every war we lose a lot of our best people particularly as the economy improves, theyre going to leave, he said. We need to keep the best we have in the military.
While its early to gauge the full impact of sequestration one of the areas I stay out of is Obamacare, Mullen quipped the recent fiscal uncertainty in the military may reverberate notably in retention numbers.
On the foreign policy front, Mullen said hes concerned Obamas pivot to Asia is giving a sense of U.S. retreat and withdrawal from other hot zones in the world.
Im very supportive of rebalance, he said, noting thats an economic zone that feeds the world it needs to be stable.
That said, the Middle East is not going away I dont think we can do it and not continue to focus on the Middle East.
We dont need to get into a fight with China, Mullen added. That doesnt mean it isnt going to happen.
Watching Iraq become infested with al-Qaeda again in Anbar province has left the former chairman extremely disappointed but not shocked.
On the National Security Agency, he said from what he saw the NSA was complying with the law; they have the interest of the United States of America at the top of their list.
I hate what Snowden did. I think Snowden is a traitor, Mullen said, adding that nevertheless hes glad theres a debate about security vs. privacy that ensued in the wake of Snowdens revelations. The threats not going away, the danger is out there, so how do we balance that?
Really? If it bothered Mullen so much, he should have resigned, then called a very public news conference. That would have attracted attention, and at least some debate.
But I guess it's easier to keep quiet and just add a few more years to your pension formula. Then after retirement, you can bring the subject up at some meaningless breakfast somewhere.
they feel entitled to this whether they need it or not
He’s talking about people feeling they have the right to spend their own money on what they desire.
And he was going along so well. The infection is deep.
Yep! I have no respect for anyone who comes out swinging after they forfeited the fight.
A great place to start is no more costly land invasions of poor Muslim hellholes, that tie us up for decades.
As long as the US is wasting money on those few will buy this ‘we all have to sacrifice our retirement entitlements’ BS.
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