On Saturday, March 13th I wrote about what I considered to be an overdue response from Rep. Rick Larsen to a couple of questions I had posed to him and his fellow candidates for the 2nd CD congressional seat:
“On March 1st I wrote about a question that I had submitted to each of the 4 announced candidates for the 2nd CD. The question originated from the news that President Obama had submitted the largest Department of Defense budget request in the history of the planet on February 1st. Knowing that Congressman Rick Larsen (D- WA02) would be hosting an event with the Snohomish County Democrats on Saturday, February 20th with the intent of answering questions from the audience, this was the question I most wanted an answer to:
On February 1st President Obama submitted a Defense Department budget request for FY2011 for over $708 Billion. For the first time since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, the DoD budget request includes direct funding for the continuing military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq (over $150 Billion). In real dollars, this request represents the largest DoD budget request in the history of the country.
1) Do you believe this request is proportional to the threat to our security and, if not, is it too high or too low? Please describe what you believe to be the real military/security threat to our country to clarify your response.
2) Keeping in mind the current debate taking place over healthcare insurance reform and the cost associated with that issue and the fact the FY2011 leaves us with a $1.3 Trillion deficit; do you believe that the proposed DoD budget request is in balance with the social and infrastructure needs of the country?”
Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA02 addresses Sno Co Dems
(Photo: Chad Shue)
After submitting my question to Rep. Larsen on February 20th, I was happy to receive an email from Mark B. Middaugh of Larsen’s office on Wednesday, March 17th forwarding the congressman’s response to my questions:
Obama has submitted the largest DoD budget in history. Please define the proportional threat.
President Obama submitted a Department of Defense Budget for Fiscal Year 2011 of $708 billion. This defense budget includes $138 billion to support service members and their families through pay and benefits, $200 billion to support military operations and maintenance, such as fuel, spare parts and training, $20 billion for military construction and family housing, and $159 billion to support operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Approximately $189 billion of the defense budget goes towards researching and purchasing new equipment and weapons systems.
I believe the Department of Defense budget request for fiscal year 2011 continues to support our men and women in uniform and their families with the pay and benefits they have earned and the equipment they need to keep our country safe from the threats we face.
Our service members are deployed around the world to help keep us safe from the threats our country faces from countries and terrorist groups. Our military works with our allies and partners to stop terrorist threats and eliminate the proliferation of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. Further, our global military presence deters potentially aggressive countries, such as North Korea.
In Afghanistan, our military is fighting the Taliban, al Qaeda, and affiliated terrorist organizations because a secure and stable Afghanistan is in the direct national security interests of the United States. The terrorist attacks of September 11th were planned and executed from the mountains of Afghanistan, and we cannot allow it to once again become a safe haven for terrorists to plan attacks against America and our allies. I am working to make sure that the men and women serving in difficult conditions in Afghanistan get the equipment they need such as body armor, vehicles, and drones. This support is necessary for our service members to help stabilize Afghanistan and track down terrorists who seek to do us harm.
I am committed to making sure that tax dollars are spent effectively, and addressing the costs of the defense budget starts with attacking waste. According to the non-partisan Government Accountability office, 95 major weapons programs were a combined $295 billion over budget and on average 21 months behind schedule. This is unacceptable and must be fixed.
President Obama and Secretary of Defense Gates initiated a comprehensive review of defense spending plans in 2009 and made significant changes to the Department of Defense budget to root out wasteful spending. The Fiscal Year 2010 defense budget that I supported cancelled many weapons systems that were over-cost, behind schedule and unnecessary to combat the threats our country faces, such as the F-22 Raptor, Transformational Satellite, and Future Combat System.
Building upon this effort, I voted to pass comprehensive defense acquisition reform legislation in May of 2009. This law will require the Department of Defense to provide more realistic estimates of how much weapons will cost and punish those programs which are failing to meet schedule and cost goals. Further, this legislation will demand additional focus during the early stages of weapons development, when small program changes can have major long-term consequences.
Moving forward, I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to provide oversight of the Department of Defense to reduce waste and strengthen our national security.
Do you believe this budget is in balance with the social and infrastructure needs of the country?
My top priority is creating an economic environment that grows jobs strengthens the foundation for future economic growth and reduces unemployment. I am unclear what the question above is specifically asking and would appreciate a more clarity so I can give you a complete answer.
I thank Congressman Larsen for his response and I will do my best to provide him with more clarity on my question of balance between the military and social needs of our country. I also continue to extend the invitation to republican candidate, John Koster, to provide his response to this question so that the voters in the 2nd CD can contrast and compare between all of the candidates who would seek to represent them.
For More Information: Questions for the Candidates Of bombs bullets and compassion; The candidates respond – Larry-Kalb; The candidates respond – Diana-McGinness