Memorial Day is set aside to honor the nation’s fallen warriors. Americans have always respected the courage and commitment of those who go in harm’s way for the rest of us.
In Federalist 23, Hamilton discussed the conditions necessary for the common defense.
The authorities essential to the common defense are these: to raise armies; to build and equip fleets; to prescribe rules for the government of both; too direct their operations; to provide for their support. The powers ought to exist without limitation, because it is impossible to foresee or define the extent and variety of the means which may be necessary to satisfy them. The circumstances that endanger the safety of nations are infinite, and for this reason no constitutional shackles can wisely be imposed on the power to which the care of it is committed.
The proper extent of that power was debated by the Founders and continues to be debated today.
The Founders, however, did not foresee the use of executive power to weaken the nation’s defense.
Citing new strategies for a more efficient military, President Obama would reduce the military by hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade, plus an additional $500 billion if Congress allows proposed deeper reductions. In the president’s words, “We have to renew our economic strength here at home, which is the foundation of our strength in the world.” Experience tells us that ”renewing economic strength at home” is shorthand for more domestic spending.
The president’s assault on the military is two-pronged. He would also drastically cut military pay and benefits. According to the Army Times:
Starting this month, some troops will begin receiving less Imminent Danger Pay when a new policy takes effect that will prorate the standard $225 monthly IDP stipend.
Under the new policy, troops will be paid only for the actual days they spend in the danger pay location, defense officials said Thursday.
Under the previous policy, troops who spent any portion of the month in a danger pay location received danger pay for the entire month.
The proration amounts to $7.50 per day. So, for example, if a service member spends only 7 days of the month in Afghanistan, he or she will have only $52.50 in Imminent Danger Pay added to their paycheck.”
Obama would drastically raise rates for the health insurance benefit program for active and retired military personnel from 30% to 78% for the first year, and 94% to 345% after five years. In addition, new annual fees, increased prescription co-payments and the elimination of generic drug incentives are planned. Some benefits would become “means-tested” and therefore categorized as a welfare program, not a benefit. The price hikes would affect 1.5 million active-duty service members, 21.8 million veterans, and their families.
This is not to say that there isn’t waste in the Pentagon. However, with a volunteer army, hazard pay and health benefits for military families, isn’t the first place to look. Aren’t we asking these brave men and women to sacrifice enough?
Apparently little thought has been given to the effect of these changes on morale or recruitment and retention.
According to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta,
”The Army and Marines Corps will no longer need to be sized to support the kind of large-scale, long-term military operations that have dominated military priorities and force generations over the past decades.”
Charles Krauthammer disagrees, observing that the Obama administration strategy is rooted in “the notion that the United States won’t be involved in another large-scale ground war.” Krauthammer points out that such wars aren’t always planned for.“Sometimes a Pearl Harbor happens or an invasion of South Korea or a 9/11. Then ground war is thrust upon you. It’s not as if it’s a choice,”
In Federalist 41 Madison asked, “How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?”
According to a joint congressional resolution approved May 11, 1950, as amended (36 U.S.C. 116) l the president of the United States is to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe each Memorial Day as a day of prayer for permanent peace and designating a period on that day when the people of the United States might unite in prayer.
President Obama’s proclamation begins:
Our Nation endures and thrives because of the devotion of our men and women in uniform, who, from generation to generation, carry a burden heavier than any we may ever know. On Memorial Day, we honor those who have borne conflict’s greatest cost, mourn where the wounds of war are fresh, and pray for a just, lasting peace.”
His words are inspiring – but his actions speak louder.