WICKER: Defense Budget Is Recipe for U.S. Decline

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, April 13, 2022

By U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker | Guest Columnist 

If there was ever a moment for presidential leadership, it is now. Ukraine is engulfed in a bitter war with Russia, gas prices are soaring, and inflation is holding back our full economic recovery. Unfortunately, President Biden’s new budget proposal totally fails to meet these priorities. His plan would cut our military strength at a time of international crisis. It would also impose job-killing tax hikes that Congress has already rejected on a bipartisan basis.

President Biden’s budget would increase military spending by four percent. Although this sounds positive, it would amount to a substantial cut when adjusting for 7.9 percent inflation. This is simply unacceptable at a time when war is breaking out in Europe and American security is being challenged globally. The President’s plan would fall especially hard on our Navy fleet, which has been underfunded for years and is now outnumbered by China’s. With additional threats emerging from Russia and Iran, the Navy needs a concerted shipbuilding effort with strong and consistent funding.

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President Biden’s budget fails to meet this critical need. His proposal would build only nine ships next year while retiring 24. Instead of building the Navy needed to secure peace, it would direct money toward “climate change” initiatives that would do little for the environment. This is exactly the wrong message to send the world’s dictators, who are currently on the move in part because they sense American weakness.

Recently I questioned President Biden’s top defense leaders before the Senate Armed Services Committee. I pushed them to provide Congress with a long-overdue 30-year shipbuilding plan and a study on amphibious ships, which they said will be ready in a few weeks. I will be closely assessing those proposals to see if they match the Navy’s needs.

With Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, we have entered the most dangerous period in world affairs since the height of the Cold War. Congress recently approved $14 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine, but supplies are not moving into Ukrainian hands fast enough because of bureaucratic delays – something I am urging Biden’s officials to fix. President Biden has also deployed several thousand troops to NATO countries. Yet his budget fails to keep up with this commitment. His proposal would keep Army funding essentially flat. It would also scrap a sea-launched missile program, which is important to maintaining our nuclear deterrent.

This is not a serious defense budget aimed at securing peace through strength. In the coming weeks, I will be pushing Congress to assert its constitutional power of the purse to make sure our security needs are met.

In addition to weakening our military, President Biden’s budget includes a list of tax hikes that have already met bipartisan opposition in Congress. His plan would impose $2.5 trillion in new taxes, ignoring the fact that tax revenue is already at a 50-year high.

It would also raise taxes on job creators from 21 percent to 28 percent. This would shrink the economy and eliminate over 138,000 jobs, according to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. The President is even proposing a socialist tax on wealth, something he refused to support when he was running against far-left Senator Bernie Sanders. As the budget process moves forward, Republicans will continue fighting to defeat these harmful tax hikes and provide our military the resources it needs to keep us safe.

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker has served as the senior senator for Mississippi since 2007.