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There's a minivan that often parks near our studios here in Boston that's covered in Ron Paul stickers. It's also got one of those "Don't Tread On Me" bumper stickers, as well as a big plastic decal crying, "Where's the birth certificate?"
The people who drive Ron Paul-mobiles and the people who put Barney Frank stickers on their own cars don't agree on a whole lot. But during today's On Point, those two Congressman — the Tea Party icon and the blue state icon — joined together to argue that there's one thing most Americans should agree on.
It's not the Cold War anymore, they said, and the U.S. military budget ought to reflect that.
In a co-authored op-ed in the Huffington Post, the two argue that American military spending is out of control, based on a foreign policy better suited to defeating Communism than terrorism. In a time of record deficits, they say, the Pentagon's $693 billion budget — with its two wars and military bases all over the world — is a drain on the U.S. economy.
Frank and Paul's argument is geopolitical. The American military budget expanded in light of perceived military threats from massive powers: the Axis during World War II and the rise of Communism in the post-War era.
Frank says now the world doesn't look the way it used to, but the U.S.'s continued presence on bases in Europe, Asia and all over the world suggests that its military presence (and corresponding expenses) has hardly changed.
"We don't have the Nazi's, we don't have the Soviet Union, but we are still spending as if our very national existence was in peril," Frank said. "We have to differentiate between what we need to protect ourselves and what we volunteer to do because we're going to be the world's police officer."
Frank said U.S. military bases in Japan and South Korea are simply unnecessary, even in light of China's expanding power. "American air power and sea power should be available to reassure people. Ground troops are irrelevant to that," Frank said.
Paul added that, in his view, American attempts overseas are exposing the country to unnecessary economic and military danger. "(The Soviet system) collapsed going into Afghanistan and their economy broke down," Paul said, "That's what we could face, and then we'll come home under very difficult circumstances."
Frank said the United States needs to reorient its security policy. "There's no existential threat to our existence as a nation," he said. "There's terrorism, and I want to spend money on that."
This program aired on July 14, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.
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