Legislation to close military bases represents an insecure politician's worst nightmare, particularly when the targeted base is in a U.S. senator's state or in a representative's district.
Military bases translate into money for the local economy and are much coveted plums by members of Congress. Politicians don't want constituents to think they don't have the pull to protect military bases in their district. And they're not afraid to wrap themselves in a self-serving flag of support for the military, even if the military doesn't want the bases.
That's why Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld deserves praise for his plan to shut about 25 percent of the nation's military bases in an effort to improve efficiency. If accepted by the Base Closure and Realignment Commission and the president the base closing plan would be an ambitious retooling of the military. Unfortunately, the scope of the plan is such that skeptics fear it may trigger a congressional revolt because it will affect so many states.
Rumsfeld has proven to be a secretary of defense who's not afraid to shake up the status quo. A veteran Washington D.C. insider, he wants to use the estimated $6.5 billion in savings by 2011 for such programs as missile defense, unmanned planes and streamlined procurement systems.
The base-closing plan is a sensitive and slow-moving process. Rumsfeld is required to submit his list of recommended closings to the commission by May of 2005. The commission is required to submit its list to President George Bush by September of 2005.
Congress let the commission make the base closing decisions in the four earlier rounds in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995. The process worked well. Voters should urge their senators and representatives to commit to this process and let the chips fall where they may when it comes to military base closings.
If they don't support the base closings package the committee recommends voters should ask them precisely where they would recommend cutting some $6.5 billion from the federal budget.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.