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If Other Government Institutions Were as Effective as the Defense Department ...

10:48 AM, May 5, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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With government looking to cut spending, many are turning a watchful eye to the Department of Defense. The problem is, as Michael Goldfarb explains to Reuters, it's hard to make the argument, especially after the military's successful killing of Osama bin Laden, that there's a more effective government institution than Defense.

Strategist Michael Goldfarb sees the Obama administration's drive to cut the defense budget as a legitimate concern.

"The American people are looking at a huge successful military operation and can see this is one institution that really works effectively. Don't you want to make the point that the president is trying to cut $400 billion from this institution but seems incapable of cutting anything else?" said Goldfarb.

If other government institutions were as effective as the Department of Defense, wouldn't they operate far more effectively? If, say, the Department of Education were as good at educating children as the DoD is at keeping America safe, and if the Department of Commerce were as good at doing whatever they're supposed to be doing (creating jobs? running a sound economy?), then maybe the Pentagon's budget should be up for argument. 

There are, of course, many other arguments for keeping the Defense budget as it is -- and even growing it. (Let's not forget: America's fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as conducting military operations in Libya.) But it's worth keeping in mind that if government spending were measured as a matter of effectiveness, few (if any) are as competent as the Defense Department.  

Fortunately, it looks like legislators are already internalizing this lesson:

But touting their success also has benefits: A U.S. House committee on Wednesday approved $10.5 billion for Special Operations Command, which oversees the Navy SEALs unit in the bin Laden mission. The amount represents a 7 percent increase from current levels.

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