It's Time to Get the Federal Welfare-Warfare State Under Control | Opinion

In 2010, then-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen called the national debt "the greatest national security threat facing our nation." At the time, the national debt was around $13 trillion. Eleven years later, the national debt exceeds $29 trillion—that's bigger than the gross domestic product of the United States! Yet almost no one in Washington is at all serious about cutting spending.

The Democratic Party is so devoted to massive spending increases that those Democrats who "only" want to spend $1.75 trillion on the so-called Build Back Better Plan are considered "fiscal conservatives." Republicans may vote against big-spending bills when out of power, but as soon as one of their own sits in the Oval Office, they abandon fiscal conservatism.

The spending problem is rooted in bipartisan support for the welfare-warfare state. The only real disagreements between the major parties (or at least the parties' leadership) are over who can best manage the global empire abroad and the provider state at home.

Exhibit A of the bipartisan consensus on spending is the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that will soon be voted on in the Senate. Thirty years after the Soviet Union's fall, and following the U.S.'s long-overdue withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Joe Biden proposed increasing the defense budget to $715 billion. With strong support from members of both parties, the Senate Armed Services Committee increased that number by $25 billion.

The NDAA is only going to get worse when the full Senate debates and votes on amendments. Many amendments to this "defense" bill have as little to do with defending the American people as the Iraq War did.

House GOP members
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 17: House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) speaks outside the U.S. Capitol November 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. McCarthy and other members of the Republican caucus spoke on U.S. President Joe Bidens domestic agenda as his Build Back Better initiative nears a vote in the House. Drew Angerer/Getty Images

One amendment would force all military departments and agencies to transition to "clean energy." Forcing taxpayers to waste money on a militarized Green New Deal is not justified by science, the true security needs of the people or fiscal prudence.

Other amendments will direct Congress to put land into trust for Indian tribes, one of which will create a casino. Whatever one's position on expanding tribally controlled casinos, this action raises important questions of federalism and tribal governance that deserve more attention than the 10 minutes of debate most NDAA amendments receive.

Other NDAA amendments will create new federal small business loan programs, make daylight saving time permanent and increase the amount authorized for "plant-directed research and development." In other words, more subsidies for businesses and permanent darkness at 5 p.m.

More time, money and attention spent on frivolous political items means less time, money and attention for America's core defense concerns. With inflation at record highs and the U.S. deficit recently hitting $2.77 trillion, the second-highest on record, controlling spending is more critical now than it ever has been.

That's why Congress must begin making tough decisions about the federal budget and spending. The first should be to stop using the NDAA as a vehicle for special interest spending and instead restore a fiscally conservative foreign policy that does not go questing in search of monsters but seeks peaceful relations with all.

Hopefully that time will be now.

Dr. Ron Paul is an Air Force veteran who served as a Member of Congress from Texas.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.