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Archive for the ‘Patriotism’ Category

President Trump’s Accomplishments

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

Some of these accomplishments are pretty minor, and the effect of some are as yet to be felt. However, the changes on so many levels have been remarkable, and for the most part quite positive ––– especially so in light of the hatred of the Democrats and the Media, both of are struggling to remove him from office.

 

Washington Examiner

Trump’s list: 289 accomplishments in just 20 months, ‘relentless’ promise-keeping

by Paul Bedard

October 12, 2018

The Trump administration’s often overlooked list of achievements has surpassed those of former President Ronald Reagan at this time and more than doubled since the last tally of accomplishments after his first year in office, giving President Trump a solid platform to run for re-election on.

As Trump nears the two-year mark of his historic election and conducts political rallies around the country, during which he talks up his wins in hopes it will energize Republican voters, the administration has counted up 289 accomplishments in 18 categories, capped by the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

They include 173 major wins, such as adding more than 4 million jobs, and another 116 smaller victories, some with outsize importance, such as the 83 percent one-year increase in arrests of MS-13 gang members.

“Trump’s successes in reducing the cost of taxes and regulations, rebuilding our military, avoiding wars of choice and changing the courts rival those of all previous Republican presidents,” said Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform.

“Trump has an advantage over Ronald Reagan: He has a Reagan Republican House and Senate while Reagan had a [Democratic Speaker] Tip O’Neill House and a pre-Reagan Republican Senate. Reagan and [former GOP Speaker] Newt Gingrich were the ice breakers that allowed Trump’s victories to grow in number and significance,” he added.

Unlike the Year One list which included many proposals and orders still to be acted on, the new collection includes dozens of actions already in place, signed legislation, and enforced executive orders.

For example, while the Year One list bragged about the administration’s efforts to rewrite the much-maligned NAFTA trade deal with Canada and Mexico, the Year Two list said: “Negotiated an historic U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement to replace NAFTA.”

In December, Secrets reported on the first list of White House accomplishments.

And shockingly the NAFTA achievement is presented as a sidebar to the larger achievement that reads, “President Trump is negotiating and renegotiating better trade deals, achieving free, fair, and reciprocal trade for the United States.” Under that umbrella are eight trade deals cut with Japan, South Korea, Europe and China.

“President Trump is a truly unique leader in American history. He’s a kid from Queens who became an international business leader and made billions by getting things when no one said he could,” said Trump’s 2016 campaign pollster John McLaughlin.

“They told him he couldn’t be president and beat the establishment and he did. For two years the establishment is telling him he can’t do things in Washington and he’s succeeding in spite of them. He never retreats. He doesn’t back up. He’s relentless. He just wins,” he added.

Comparing the two years shows that the latest has an expanded group of economic achievements while the pro-life category was folded into the health care section.

Along the way, there have been some disappointments, such as failing to replace Obamacare, fund a big infrastructure plan, and build the border wall.

But the White House believes that despite a lack of media coverage of his accomplishments, supporters know about them and will head to the voting polls to help the GOP maintain control of the House and keep the president on what CNN dubbed a “winning streak.”

In the Washington Post Friday, former Bush speechwriter and columnist Marc Thiessen agreed and said that Trump has proven to be successful at keeping his campaign promises. He wrote, “The fact is, in his first two years, Trump has compiled a remarkable record of presidential promise-keeping.”

The list:

Economic Growth

  • 4.2 percent growth in the second quarter of 2018.
  • For the first time in more than a decade, growth is projected to exceed 3 percent over the calendar year.

Jobs

  • 4 million new jobs have been created since the election, and more than 3.5 million since Trump took office.
  • More Americans are employed now than ever before in our history.
  • Jobless claims at lowest level in nearly five decades.
  • The economy has achieved the longest positive job-growth streak on record.
  • Job openings are at an all-time high and outnumber job seekers for the first time on record.
  • Unemployment claims at 50 year low
  • African-American, Hispanic, and Asian-American unemployment rates have all recently reached record lows.
    • African-American unemployment hit a record low of 5.9 percent in May 2018.
    • Hispanic unemployment at 4.5 percent.
    • Asian-American unemployment at record low of 2 percent.
  • Women’s unemployment recently at lowest rate in nearly 65 years.
    • Female unemployment dropped to 3.6 percent in May 2018, the lowest since October 1953.
  • Youth unemployment recently reached its lowest level in more than 50 years.
    • July 2018’s youth unemployment rate of 9.2 percent was the lowest since July 1966.
  • Veterans’ unemployment recently hit its lowest level in nearly two decades.
    • July 2018’s veterans’ unemployment rate of 3.0 percent matched the lowest rate since May 2001.
  • Unemployment rate for Americans without a high school diploma recently reached a record low.
  • Rate for disabled Americans recently hit a record low.
  • Blue-collar jobs recently grew at the fastest rate in more than three decades.
  • Poll found that 85 percent of blue-collar workers believe their lives are headed “in the right direction.”
    • 68 percent reported receiving a pay increase in the past year.
  • Last year, job satisfaction among American workers hit its highest level since 2005.
  • Nearly two-thirds of Americans rate now as a good time to find a quality job.
    • Optimism about the availability of good jobs has grown by 25 percent.
  • Added more than 400,000 manufacturing jobs since the election.
    • Manufacturing employment is growing at its fastest pace in more than two decades.
  • 100,000 new jobs supporting the production & transport of oil & natural gas.

American Income

  • Median household income rose to $61,372 in 2017, a post-recession high.
  • Wages up in August by their fastest rate since June 2009.
  • Paychecks rose by 3.3 percent between 2016 and 2017, the most in a decade.
  • Council of Economic Advisers found that real wage compensation has grown by 1.4 percent over the past year.
  • Some 3.9 million Americans off food stamps since the election.
  • Median income for Hispanic-Americans rose by 3.7 percent and surpassed $50,000 for the first time ever in history.
    • Home-ownership among Hispanics is at the highest rate in nearly a decade.
  • Poverty rates for African-Americans and Hispanic-Americans have reached their lowest levels ever recorded.

American Optimism

  • Small business optimism has hit historic highs.
    • NFIB’s small business optimism index broke a 35 year-old record in August.
    • SurveyMonkey/CNBC’s small business confidence survey for Q3 of 2018 matched its all-time high.
  • Manufacturers are more confident than ever.
    • 95 percent of U.S. manufacturers are optimistic about the future, the highest ever.
  • Consumer confidence is at an 18-year high.
  • 12 percent of Americans rate the economy as the most significant problem facing our country, the lowest level on record.
  • Confidence in the economy is near a two-decade high, with 51 percent rating the economy as good or excellent.

American Business

  • Investment is flooding back into the United States due to the tax cuts.
    • Over $450 billion dollars has already poured back into the U.S., including more than $300 billion in the first quarter of 2018.
  • Retail sales have surged. Commerce Department figures from August show that retail sales increased 0.5 percent in July 2018, an increase of 6.4 percent from July 2017.
  • ISM’s index of manufacturing scored its highest reading in 14 years.
  • Worker productivity is the highest it has been in more than three years.
  • Steel and aluminum producers are re-opening.
  • Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500, and NASDAQ have all notched record highs.
    • Dow hit record highs 70 times in 2017 alone, the most ever recorded in one year.

Deregulation

  • Achieved massive deregulation at a rapid pace, completing 22 deregulatory actions to every one regulatory action during his first year in office.
  • Signed legislation to roll back costly and harmful provisions of Dodd-Frank, providing relief to credit unions, and community and regional banks.
  • Federal agencies achieved more than $8 billion in lifetime net regulatory cost savings.
  • Rolled back Obama’s burdensome Waters of the U.S. rule.
  • Used the Congressional Review Act to repeal regulations more times than in history.

Tax Cuts

  • Biggest tax cuts and reforms in American history by signing the Tax Cuts and Jobs act into law
    • Provided more than $5.5 trillion in gross tax cuts, nearly 60 percent of which will go to families.
    • Increased the exemption for the death tax to help save Family Farms & Small Business.
    • Nearly doubled the standard deduction for individuals and families.
    • Enabled vast majority of American families will be able to file their taxes on a single page by claiming the standard deduction.
    • Doubled the child tax credit to help lessen the financial burden of raising a family.
    • Lowered America’s corporate tax rate from the highest in the developed world to allow American businesses to compete and win.
    • Small businesses can now deduct 20 percent of their business income.
    • Cut dozens of special interest tax breaks and closed loopholes for the wealthy.
  • 9 in 10 American workers are expected see an increase in their paychecks thanks to the tax cuts, according to the Treasury Department.
  • More than 6 million of American workers have received wage increases, bonuses, and increased benefits thanks to tax cuts.
  • Over 100 utility companies have lowered electric, gas, or water rates thanks to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
  • Ernst & Young found 89 percent of companies planned to increase worker compensation thanks to the Trump tax cuts.
  • Established opportunity zones to spur investment in left behind communities.

Worker Development

  • Established a National Council for the American Worker to develop a national strategy for training and retraining America’s workers for high-demand industries.
  • Employers have signed Trump’s “Pledge to America’s Workers,” committing to train or retrain more than 4.2 million workers and students.
  • Signed the first Perkins CTE reauthorization since 2006, authorizing more than $1 billion for states each year to fund vocational and career education programs.
  • Executive order expanding apprenticeship opportunities for students and workers.

Domestic Infrastructure

  • Proposed infrastructure plan would utilize $200 billion in Federal funds to spur at least $1.5 trillion in infrastructure investment across the country.
  • Executive order expediting environmental reviews and approvals for high priority infrastructure projects.
  • Federal agencies have signed the One Federal Decision Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) streamlining the federal permitting process for infrastructure projects.
  • Rural prosperity task force and signed an executive order to help expand broadband access in rural areas.

Health Care

  • Signed an executive order to help minimize the financial burden felt by American households Signed legislation to improve the National Suicide Hotline.
  • Signed the most comprehensive childhood cancer legislation ever into law, which will advance childhood cancer research and improve treatments.
  • Signed Right-to-Try legislation, expanding health care options for terminally ill patients.
  • Enacted changes to the Medicare 340B program, saving seniors an estimated $320 million on drugs in 2018 alone.
  • FDA set a new record for generic drug approvals in 2017, saving consumers nearly $9 billion.
  • Released a blueprint to drive down drug prices for American patients, leading multiple major drug companies to announce they will freeze or reverse price increases.
  • Expanded short-term, limited-duration health plans.
  • Let more employers to form Association Health Plans, enabling more small businesses to join together and affordably provide health insurance to their employees.
  • Cut Obamacare’s burdensome individual mandate penalty.
  • Signed legislation repealing Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board, also known as the “death panels.”
  • USDA invested more than $1 billion in rural health care in 2017, improving access to health care for 2.5 million people in rural communities across 41 states
  • Proposed Title X rule to help ensure taxpayers do not fund the abortion industry in violation of the law.
  • Reinstated and expanded the Mexico City Policy to keep foreign aid from supporting the global abortion industry.
  • HHS formed a new division over protecting the rights of conscience and religious freedom.
  • Overturned Obama administration’s midnight regulation prohibiting states from defunding certain abortion facilities.
  • Signed executive order to help ensure that religious organizations are not forced to choose between violating their religious beliefs by complying with Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate or shutting their doors.

Combating Opioids

  • Chaired meeting the 73rd General Session of the United Nations discussing the worldwide drug problem with international leaders.
  • Initiative to Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand, introducing new measures to keep dangerous drugs out of our communities.
  • $6 billion in new funding to fight the opioid epidemic.
  • DEA conducted a surge in April 2018 that arrested 28 medical professions and revoked 147 registrations for prescribing too many opioids.
  • Brought the “Prescribed to Death” memorial to President’s Park near the White House, helping raise awareness about the human toll of the opioid crisis.
  • Helped reduce high-dose opioid prescriptions by 16 percent in 2017.
  • Opioid Summit on the administration-wide efforts to combat the opioid crisis.
  • Launched a national public awareness campaign about the dangers of opioid addiction.
  • Created a Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis which recommended a number of pathways to tackle the opioid crisis.
  • Led two National Prescription Drug Take Back Days in 2017 and 2018, collecting a record number of expired and unneeded prescription drugs each time.
  • $485 million targeted grants in FY 2017 to help areas hit hardest by the opioid crisis.
  • Signed INTERDICT Act, strengthening efforts to detect and intercept synthetic opioids before they reach our communities.
  • DOJ secured its first-ever indictments against Chinese fentanyl manufacturers.
  • Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team, aimed at disrupting online illicit opioid sales.
  • Declared the opioid crisis a Nationwide Public Health Emergency in October 2017.

Law and Order

  • More U.S. Circuit Court judges confirmed in the first year in office than ever.
  • Confirmed more than two dozen U. S. Circuit Court judges.
  • Followed through on the promise to nominate judges to the Supreme Court who will adhere to the Constitution
    • Nominated and confirmed Justice Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.
  • Signed an executive order directing the Attorney General to develop a strategy to more effectively prosecute people who commit crimes against law enforcement officers.
  • Launched an evaluation of grant programs to make sure they prioritize the protection and safety of law enforcement officers.
  • Established a task force to reduce crime and restore public safety in communities across Signed an executive order to focus more federal resources on dismantling transnational criminal organizations such as drug cartels.
  • Signed an executive order to focus more federal resources on dismantling transnational criminal organizations such as drug cartels.
  • Violent crime decreased in 2017 according to FBI statistics.
  • $137 million in grants through the COPS Hiring Program to preserve jobs, increase community policing capacities, and support crime prevention efforts.
  • Enhanced and updated the Project Safe Neighborhoods to help reduce violent crime.
  • Signed legislation making it easier to target websites that enable sex trafficking and strengthened penalties for people who promote or facilitate prostitution.
  • Created an interagency task force working around the clock to prosecute traffickers, protect victims, and prevent human trafficking.
  • Conducted Operation Cross Country XI to combat human trafficking, rescuing 84 children and arresting 120 human traffickers.
  • Encouraged federal prosecutors to use the death penalty when possible in the fight against the trafficking of deadly drugs.
  • New rule effectively banning bump stock sales in the United States.

Border Security and Immigration

  • Secured $1.6 billion for border wall construction in the March 2018 omnibus bill.
  • Construction of a 14-mile section of border wall began near San Diego.
  • Worked to protect American communities from the threat posed by the vile MS-13 gang.
    • ICE’s Homeland Security Investigations division arrested 796 MS-13 members and associates in FY 2017, an 83 percent increase from the prior year.
    • Justice worked with partners in Central America to secure criminal charges against more than 4,000 MS-13 members.
    • Border Patrol agents arrested 228 illegal aliens affiliated with MS-13 in FY 2017.
  • Fighting to stop the scourge of illegal drugs at our border.
    • ICE HSI seized more than 980,000 pounds of narcotics in FY 2017, including 2,370 pounds of fentanyl and 6,967 pounds of heroin.
    • ICE HSI dedicated nearly 630,000 investigative hours towards halting the illegal import of fentanyl.
    • ICE HSI made 11,691 narcotics-related arrests in FY 2017.
    • Stop Opioid Abuse and Reduce Drug Supply and Demand introduced new measures to keep dangerous drugs out the United States.
    • Signed the INTERDICT Act into law, enhancing efforts to detect and intercept synthetic opioids.
    • DOJ secured its first-ever indictments against Chinese fentanyl manufacturers.
    • DOJ launched their Joint Criminal Opioid Darknet Enforcement (J-CODE) team, aimed at disrupting online illicit opioid sales.
  • Released an immigration framework that includes the resources required to secure our borders and close legal loopholes, and repeatedly called on Congress to fix our broken immigration laws.
  • Authorized the deployment of the National Guard to help secure the border.
  • Enhanced vetting of individuals entering the U.S. from countries that don’t meet security standards, helping to ensure individuals who pose a threat to our country are identified before they enter.
    • These procedures were upheld in a June 2018 Supreme Court hearing.
  • ICE removed over 226,000 illegal aliens from the United States in 2017.
    • ICE rescued or identified over 500 human trafficking victims and over 900 child exploitation victims in 2017 alone.
  • In 2017, ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) arrested more than 127,000 aliens with criminal convictions or charges, responsible for
    • Over 76,000 with dangerous drug offenses.
    • More than 48,000 with assault offenses.
    • More than 11,000 with weapons offenses.
    • More than 5,000 with sexual assault offenses.
    • More than 2,000 with kidnapping offenses.
    • Over 1,800 with homicide offenses.
  • Created the Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) Office in order to support the victims and families affected by illegal alien crime.
  • More than doubled the number of counties participating in the 287(g) program, which allows jails to detain criminal aliens until they are transferred to ICE custody.

Trade

  • Negotiating and renegotiating better trade deals, achieving free, fair, and reciprocal trade for the United States.
    • Agreed to work with the European Union towards zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsides.
    • Deal with the European Union to increase U.S. energy exports to Europe.
    • Litigated multiple WTO disputes targeting unfair trade practices and upholding our right to enact fair trade laws.
    • Finalized a revised trade agreement with South Korea, which includes provisions to increase American automobile exports.
    • Negotiated an historic U.S.-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement to replace NAFTA.
    • Agreement to begin trade negotiations for a U.S.-Japan trade agreement.
    • Secured $250 billion in new trade and investment deals in China and $12 billion in Vietnam.
    • Established a Trade and Investment Working Group with the United Kingdom, laying the groundwork for post-Brexit trade.
  • Enacted steel and aluminum tariffs to protect our vital steel and aluminum producers and strengthen our national security.
  • Conducted 82 anti-dumping and countervailing duty investigations in 2017 alone.
  • Confronting China’s unfair trade practices after years of Washington looking the other way.
    • 25 percent tariff on $50 billion of goods imported from China and later imposed an additional 10% tariff on $200 billion of Chinese goods.
    • Conducted an investigation into Chinese forced technology transfers, unfair licensing practices, and intellectual property theft.
    • Imposed safeguard tariffs to protect domestic washing machines and solar products manufacturers hurt by China’s trade policies
  • Withdrew from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
  • Secured access to new markets for America’s farmers.
    • Recent deal with Mexico included new improvements enabling food and agriculture to trade more fairly.
    • Recent agreement with the E.U. will reduce barriers and increase trade of American soybeans to Europe.
    • Won a WTO dispute regarding Indonesia’s unfair restriction of U.S. agricultural exports.
    • Defended American Tuna fisherman and packagers before the WTO
    • Opened up Argentina to American pork experts for the first time in a quarter-century
    • American beef exports have returned to china for the first time in more than a decade
  • OK’d up to $12 billion in aid for farmers affected by unfair trade retaliation.

Energy

  • Presidential Memorandum to clear roadblocks to construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
  • Presidential Memorandum declaring that the Dakota Access Pipeline serves the national interest and initiating the process to complete construction.
  • Opened up the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to energy exploration.
  • Coal exports up over 60 percent in 2017.
  • Rolled back the “stream protection rule” to prevent it from harming America’s coal industry.
  • Cancelled Obama’s anti-coal Clean Power Plan and proposed the Affordable Clean Energy Rule as a replacement.
  • Withdrew from the job-killing Paris climate agreement, which would have cost the U.S. nearly $3 trillion and led to 6.5 million fewer industrial sector jobs by 2040.
  • U.S. oil production has achieved its highest level in American history
  • United States is now the largest crude oil producer in the world.
  • U.S. has become a net natural gas exporter for the first time in six decades.
  • Action to expedite the identification and extraction of critical minerals that are vital to the nation’s security and economic prosperity.
  • Took action to reform National Ambient Air Quality Standards, benefitting American manufacturers.
  • Rescinded Obama’s hydraulic fracturing rule, which was expected to cost the industry $32 million per year.
  • Proposed an expansion of offshore drilling as part of an all-of-the above energy strategy
    • Held a lease sale for offshore oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico in August 2018.
  • Got EU to increase its imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the United States.
  • Issued permits for the New Burgos Pipeline that will cross the U.S.-Mexico border.

Foreign Policy

  • Moved the U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.
  • Withdrew from Iran deal and immediately began the process of re-imposing sanctions that had been lifted or waived.
    • Treasury has issued sanctions targeting Iranian activities and entities, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps-Qods Force
    • Since enacting sanctions, Iran’s crude exports have fallen off, the value of Iran’s currency has plummeted, and international companies have pulled out of the country.
    • All nuclear-related sanctions will be back in full force by early November 2018.
  • Historic summit with North Korean President Kim Jong-Un, bringing beginnings of peace and denuclearization to the Korean Peninsula.
    • The two leaders have exchanged letters and high-level officials from both sides have met resulting in tremendous progress.
    • North Korea has halted nuclear and missile tests.
    • Negotiated the return of the remains of missing-in-action soldiers from the Korean War.
  • Imposed strong sanctions on Venezuelan dictator Nicholas Maduro and his inner circle.
  • Executive order preventing those in the U.S. from carrying out certain transactions with the Venezuelan regime, including prohibiting the purchase of the regime’s debt.
  • Responded to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime.
    • Rolled out sanctions targeting individuals and entities tied to Syria’s chemical weapons program.
    • Directed strikes in April 2017 against a Syrian airfield used in a chemical weapons attack on innocent civilians.
    • Joined allies in launching airstrikes in April 2018 against targets associated with Syria’s chemical weapons use.
  • New Cuba policy that enhanced compliance with U.S. law and held the Cuban regime accountable for political oppression and human rights abuses.
    • Treasury and State are working to channel economic activity away from the Cuban regime, particularly the military.
  • Changed the rules of engagement, empowering commanders to take the fight to ISIS.
    • ISIS has lost virtually all of its territory, more than half of which has been lost under Trump.
    • ISIS’ self-proclaimed capital city, Raqqah, was liberated in October 2017.
    • All Iraqi territory had been liberated from ISIS.
  • More than a dozen American hostages have been freed from captivity all of the world.
  • Action to combat Russia’s malign activities, including their efforts to undermine the sanctity of United States elections.
    • Expelled dozens of Russian intelligence officers from the United States and ordered the closure of the Russian consulate in Seattle, WA.
    • Banned the use of Kaspersky Labs software on government computers, due to the company’s ties to Russian intelligence.
    • Imposed sanctions against five Russian entities and three individuals for enabling Russia’s military and intelligence units to increase Russia’s offensive cyber capabilities.
    • Sanctions against seven Russian oligarchs, and 12 companies they own or control, who profit from Russia’s destabilizing activities.
    • Sanctioned 100 targets in response to Russia’s occupation of Crimea and aggression in Eastern Ukraine.
    • Enhanced support for Ukraine’s Armed Forces to help Ukraine better defend itself.
  • Helped win U.S. bid for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.
  • Helped win U.S.-Mexico-Canada’s united bid for 2026 World Cup.

Defense

  • Executive order keeping the detention facilities at U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay open.
  • $700 billion in military funding for FY 2018 and $716 billion for FY 2019.
  • Largest military pay raise in nearly a decade.
  • Ordered a Nuclear Posture Review to ensure America’s nuclear forces are up to date and serve as a credible deterrent.
  • Released America’s first fully articulated cyber strategy in 15 years.
  • New strategy on national biodefense, which better prepares the nation to defend against biological threats.
  • Administration has announced that it will use whatever means necessary to protect American citizens and servicemen from unjust prosecution by the International Criminal Court.
  • Released an America first National Security Strategy.
  • Put in motion the launch of a Space Force as a new branch of the military and relaunched the National Space Council.
  • Encouraged North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies to increase defense spending to their agree-upon levels.
    • In 2017 alone, there was an increase of more than 4.8 percent in defense spending amongst NATO allies.
    • Every member state has increased defense spending.
    • Eight NATO allies will reach the 2 percent benchmark by the end of 2018 and 15 allies are on trade to do so by 2024.
    • NATO allies spent over $42 billion dollars more on defense since 2016.
  • Executive order to help military spouses find employment as their families deploy domestically and abroad.

Veterans affairs

  • Signed the VA Accountability Act and expanded VA telehealth services, walk-in-clinics, and same-day urgent primary and mental health care.
  • Delivered more appeals decisions – 81,000 – to veterans in a single year than ever before.
  • Strengthened protections for individuals who come forward and identify programs occurring within the VA.
  • Signed legislation that provided $86.5 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), the largest dollar amount in history for the VA.
  • VA MISSION Act, enacting sweeping reform to the VA system that:
    • Consolidated and strengthened VA community care programs.
    • Funding for the Veterans Choice program.
    • Expanded eligibility for the Family Caregivers Program.
    • Gave veterans more access to walk-in care.
    • Strengthened the VA’s ability to recruit and retain quality healthcare professionals.
    • Enabled the VA to modernize its assets and infrastructure.
  • Signed the VA Choice and Quality Employment Act in 2017, which authorized $2.1 billion in addition funds for the Veterans Choice Program.
  • Worked to shift veterans’ electronic medical records to the same system used by the Department of Defense, a decades old priority.
  • Issued an executive order requiring the Secretaries of Defense, Homeland Security, and Veterans Affairs to submit a joint plan to provide veterans access to access to mental health treatment as they transition to civilian life.
  • Increased transparency and accountability at the VA by launching an online “Access and Quality Tool,” providing veterans with access to wait time and quality of care data.
  • Signed legislation to modernize the claims and appeal process at the VA.
  • Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act, providing enhanced educational benefits to veterans, service members, and their family members.
    • Lifted a 15-year limit on veterans’ access to their educational benefits.
  • Created a White House VA Hotline to help veterans and principally staffed it with veterans and direct family members of veterans.
  • VA employees are being held accountable for poor performance, with more than 4,000 VA employees removed, demoted, and suspended so far.
  • Signed the Veterans Treatment Court Improvement Act, increasing the number of VA employees that can assist justice-involved veterans.

On To Mars/Charles Krauthammer

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

Charles Krauthammer died on June 21, 2018. But his life and his treasure trove of writings will be with us forever. Below is one of his very finest, his case for mankind’s need to leave Earth and travel to the stars.

 

 

On To Mars

The Weekly Standard

January 31, 2000

 

 

January 31, 2000 12:00 AM

If you were to say to a physicist in 1899 that in 1999, a hundred years later . . . bombs of unimaginable power would threaten the species; . . . that millions of people would take to the air every hour in aircraft capable of taking off and landing without human touch; . . . that humankind would travel to the moon, and then lose interest . . . the physicist would almost certainly pronounce you mad.

–Michael Crichton

I

WHAT MANNER OF CREATURE ARE WE? It took 100,000 years for humans to get inches off the ground. Then, astonishingly, it took only 66 to get from Kitty Hawk to the moon. And then, still more astonishingly, we lost interest, spending the remaining 30 years of the 20th century going around in circles in low earth orbit, i.e., going nowhere.

 

Last July, the unmanned Lunar Prospector probe was sent to find out whether the moon contains water. It was a remarkable venture, but even more remarkable was the fact that Prospector was the first NASA spacecraft, manned or unmanned, to land on the moon since the last Apollo astronaut departed in 1972. Twenty-seven years without even a glance back.

We remember the late 15th and 16th centuries as the Age of Exploration. The second half of the 20th was at one point known as the Space Age. What happened? For the first 20 years we saw space as a testing ground, an arena for splendid, strenuous exertion. We were in a race with the Soviets for space supremacy, and mobilized for it as for war. President Kennedy committed all of our resources: men, materiel, money, and spirit. And he was bold. When he promised to land a man on the moon before the decade was out, there were only eight and a half years left. At the time, no American had even orbited the earth.

 

The Apollo program was a triumph. But the public quickly grew bored. The interview with the moon-bound astronauts aboard Apollo 13 was not even broadcast, for lack of an audience. It was only when the flight turned into a harrowing drama of survival that an audience assembled. By Apollo 17, it was all over. The final three moonshots were canceled for lack of interest.

Looking to reinvent itself, NASA came up with the idea of a space shuttle ferrying men and machines between earth and an orbiting space station. It was a fine idea except for one thing: There was no space station. Skylab had been launched in May 1973, then manned for 171 days. But no effort was made to keep its orbit from decaying. It fell to earth and burned. We were left with an enormously expensive shuttle–to nowhere.

 

The shuttle has had its successes–the views of earth it brought back, the repairs to the Hubble space telescope it enabled. But it has been a dead end scientifically and deadening spiritually. There is today a palpable ennui with space. When did we last get excited? When a 77-year-old man climbed into the shuttle in November 1998 for a return flight. That was the most excitement the shuttle program had engendered in years–the first time in a long time that a launch and the preparations and even the preflight press conference had received live coverage. Televisions were hauled into classrooms so kids could watch.

 

But watch what? The fact is that we were watching John Glenn reprise a flight he’d made 36 years earlier. It is as if the Wright Brothers had returned to Kitty Hawk in 1939 to skim the sand once again, and the replay was treated as some great advance in aviation.

 

The most disturbing part of the Glenn phenomenon was the efflorescence of space nostalgia–at a time when space exploration is still in its infancy. We have not really gone anywhere yet, and we are already looking back with sweet self-satisfaction.

 

The other flutter of excitement generated by the shuttle program occurred a few years earlier when Shannon Lucid received the Congressional Space Medal of Honor for a long-duration flight in low earth orbit. A sign of the times. She is surely brave and spunky, but the lavish attention her feat garnered says much about the diminished state of our space program. Endurance records are fine. But the Congressional Space Medal of Honor? It used to be given to the likes of Alan Shepard and John Glenn, who had the insane courage to park themselves atop an unstable, spanking-new, largely untested eight-story bomb not knowing whether it would blow up under them. Now we give it for spending six months in an orbiting phone booth with a couple of guys named Yuri.

II

WHAT HAPPENED? Where is the national will to explore? We are stuck along some quiet historical sidetrack. The fascination today is with communication, calculation, miniaturization, all in the service of multiplying human interconnectedness. Outer space has ceded pride of place to the inner space of the Internet. In fact, space’s greatest claim on our interest and resources currently rests on the fact that satellites allow us to page each other and confirm that 9:30 meeting about the new Tostitos ad campaign.

 

The excitement surrounding Shannon Lucid’s six months of sponge baths and Russian food aboard Mir is a reflection of the quiet domesticity of this inward-turning time. Perhaps it is the exhaustion after 60 years of world war, cold and hot, stretching right up to the early 1990s. The “Seinfeld “era is not an era for Odyssean adventures. Now is a time for home and hearth–the glowing computer screen that allows endless intercourse with our fellow humans.

 

Another reason for the diminishing drive for planetary exploration is, perversely, the fruits of the moon landing itself–and in particular that famous photograph of earth taken by the Apollo astronauts during the first human circumnavigation of another celestial body.

“Earthrise” had an important effect on human consciousness. It gave us our first view of earth as it is seen from God’s perspective: warm, safe, serene, blessed. It created a kind of preemptive nostalgia for earth, at precisely the moment when earthlings were finally acquiring the ability to leave it.

 

It is no surprise that “Earthrise” should have become such a cultural icon, particularly for the environmental Left. It offered the cosmic equivalent of the call to “Come home, America” issued just four years after the picture was taken.

 

That photo and the ethos it promoted–global, sedentary, inward-looking–were the metaphysical complement to the political arguments made at the time, and ever since, for turning our gaze from space back to earth. These are the familiar arguments about social priorities: Why are we spending all this money on space, when there is poverty and disease and suffering at home?

 

It is a maddening question because, while often offered in good faith, it entirely misses the point. Poverty and disease will always be with us. We have spent, by most estimates, some $5 trillion trying to abolish poverty in the United States alone. Government is simply not very good at solving social problems. But it can be extremely good at solving technical problems. The Manhattan Project is, of course, the classic case. As are the various technological advances forged in war, from radar to computers.

Concerted national mobilization for a specific scientific objective can have great success. This is in sharp contrast to national mobilization for social objectives, which almost invariably ends in disappointment, waste, and unintended consequences (such as the dependency and deviancy spawned by the massive welfare programs and entitlements of the sixties and the seventies–the Left’s preferred destination for the resources supposedly squandered on space).

 

But more exasperating than the poor social science and the misapprehension about the real capacities of government is the tone-deafness of the earth-firsters to the wonder and glory of space, and to the unique opportunity offered this generation. How can one live at the turn of the 21st century, when the planets are for the first time within our grasp, and not be moved by the grandeur of the enterprise?

 

NASA administrators like to talk about science and spinoffs to justify the space program. Well, the study of bone decalcification in near-earth weightlessness is fine, but it is hardly the motor force behind President Kennedy’s ringing declaration, “We choose to go to the Moon.” That is not why we, as a people and as a species, ventured into the cosmos in the first place.

 

Teflon and pagers are nice, too, and perhaps effective politically in selling space. But they are hardly the point. We are going into space for the same reason George Mallory climbed Everest: Because it is there. For the adventure, for the romance, for the sheer temerity of venturing into the void.

And yet, amid the national psychic letdown that followed the moon landings and is still with us today, that kind of talk seems archaic, anachronistic. So what do we do? We radically contract our horizons. We spend three decades tumbling about in near-earth orbit. We become expert in zero-G nausea and other fascinations. And when we do venture out into the glorious void, we do it on the very cheap, to accommodate the diminished national will and the pinched national resources allocated for exploration.

 

The reason NASA administrator Daniel Goldin adopted the “faster, better, cheaper” approach is that he was forced to. He was rightly afraid that when you send a $1 billion probe loaded with experiments and hardware and it fails (as happened to the Mars Observer in 1993), you risk losing your entire congressional backing–and your entire program. He had little choice but to adopt a strategy of sending cheaper but more vulnerable probes in order to lessen the stakes riding on each launch. Probes like the Mars Polar Lander.

III

WHEN THE MARS POLAR LANDER disappeared last month, the country went into a snit. The public felt let down, cheated of the exotic entertainment NASA was supposed to deliver. The press was peeved, deprived of a nice big story with lovely pictures. Jay Leno, the nation’s leading political indicator, was merciless. (“If you’re stuck for something to get NASA for Christmas, you can’t go wrong with a subscription to Popular Mechanics. . . . But they’re not giving up. NASA said today they’re gonna continue to look for other forms of intelligent life in the universe. And when they find it, they’re gonna hire him.”) And Congress preened, displaying concern, pulling its chin and promising hearings on the failure of the last three Mars missions. This will be a bit of Kabuki theater in which clueless politicians, whose greatest mathematical feat is calculating last week’s fund-raising take, will pinion earnest scientists about why they could not land a go-cart on the South Pole of a body 400 million miles away on a part of the planet we had never explored.

 

In other words, we are in for a spell of national bellyaching and finger-pointing which will inevitably culminate in the crucifixion of a couple of NASA administrators, a few symbolic budget cuts, and a feeling of self-satisfaction all around.

 

The biggest scandal of the Mars exploration projects is not that a few have failed, but the way the nation has reacted to those failures. A people couched and ready, expectant and entitled, armed with a remote control yet denied Martian pictures to go with their “Today” show coffee, will be avenged.

Who is to blame for the Mars disasters? Not the scientists, but the people who will soon be putting them on trial.

 

Landing on another planet is very hard. And landing on its South Pole, terra incognita for us, is even harder. As one researcher put it, this is rocket science. “Look at the history of landers on Mars,” professor Howard McCurdy of American University told the Washington Post. “Of twelve attempts, three have made it. The Soviets lost all six of theirs. . . . Mars really eats spacecraft.”

 

Something this hard requires not just technology–which we have–but will, which we don’t. And national will is expressed in funding. Since the glory days of Apollo, space exploration has progressively been starved. Today, funding for NASA is one fifth what it was in 1965, less than 0.8 percent of the federal budget.

 

And not only has the overall NASA budget declined, but so has the fraction allocated to both manned and unmanned exploration of the moon and the planets. The budget has been eaten by the space shuttle and the low-earth-orbit space station being built two decades late to finally provide a destination for the wandering shuttle.

 

Then there is what NASA calls “mission to planet earth,” a program devoted to studying such terrestrial concerns as ozone, land use, climate variability, and such. A nice idea. But it used to be NASA’s mission to lift us above ozone and land and climate to reach for something higher. The whole idea of space exploration was to find out what is out there.

 

The cost of the Mars Polar Lander was $165 million. In an $8 trillion economy, that is a laughable sum. “Waterworld” cost more. The new Bellagio hotel in Vegas could buy eight Polar Landers with $80 million left over for a bit of gambling. To put it in terms of competing space outlays, $165 million is less than half the cost of a shuttle launch. For the price of a single shuttle mission (launch, flight time, landing, and overhead) we could have sent two Mars Polar Landers and gotten $70 million back in change.

Planetary exploration is so hamstrung financially that the Polar Lander–which NASA last week officially declared dead–sent no telemetry during its final descent onto the planet. That was to save money. We’ll never know what went wrong. Adding a black box, something to send simple signals to tell us what happened, would have cost $5 million. Five million! That doesn’t buy one minute of air time on the Super Bowl.

 

The hard fact is that the kind of cheap, fast spacecraft NASA has been forced to build does reduce the loss in case of failure. But it increases the chance of failure. You cannot build in the kind of backup systems that go into the larger craft we sent exploring in the past. The Viking missions that 25 years ago touched down on Mars and gave us those extraordinary first pictures of its surface, and the Voyager spacecraft that gave us magnificent flybys of the entire solar system, typically cost 10 to 20 times more than the new “faster, better, cheaper” projects.

 

It is a travesty that the very same Congress that has squeezed funding for these programs will now be conducting the inquisition to find out why this shoestring operation could not produce another spectacular success. But we can’t just blame the politicians. This is a democracy. They are responding to their constituency. Their constituency is disappointed that it received no entertainment from the Mars Polar Lander, for which the average American contributed the equivalent of half a cheeseburger. If we had had the will to devote a whole cheeseburger to a Mars lander, it could have been equipped with redundant systems, and might have succeeded.

IV

THE FAULT, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves. What then to do? If we are going to save resources in acknowledgment of the diminished national will to explore, we should begin by shutting the maw that is swallowing up so much of the space budget: the shuttle and the space station. It is not as if we have nowhere to go but endlessly around earth. Recent discoveries have given us new ways and new reasons for establishing a human presence on the moon and on Mars.

 

Until a few years ago, it could have been argued that a moon base was impractical, and human Mars exploration even more so. But there is evidence that there may be water on the moon (in the form of ice, of course). And water, there as here, is the key to everything. It could provide both life support and fuel. Similarly, the fact that there is ice on Mars has led to a revolution in thinking about how we can travel there and back. Instead of carrying huge stores of fuel, which would make the launch vehicle enormously expensive and cumbersome, we could send unmanned spacecraft ahead. They would land on Mars and turn the water into life support and fuel. (If you split water, you get hydrogen and oxygen, precisely the gases that you need for life and for propulsion.) Astronauts could travel fairly light, arriving at a place already prepared with life-sustaining water, oxygen, and hydrogen for the flight back.

 

The moon and Mars are beckoning. So why are we spending so much of our resources building a tinker-toy space station? In part because, a quarter-century late, we still need something to justify the shuttle. Yet the space station’s purpose has shrunk to almost nothing. No one takes seriously its claims to be a platform for real science. And the original idea–hatched in the 1950s–that it would be a way station to the moon and Mars, was overtaken in the sixties when we found more efficient ways to fully escape earth’s gravitational well.

 

The space station’s main purpose now appears to be . . . fostering international cooperation. It became too expensive for the United States to do alone, and so we decided to share the cost and control. It provides a convenient back door for American funding of the bankrupt Russian space program. We send Russia the money to build its space station modules. This is supposed to promote friendship and keep Russian rocket scientists from moving to Baghdad.

 

The cost to the United States? Twenty-one billion dollars, enough to support 127 Polar Landers. Instead of squandering $21 billion on a weightless United Nations (don’t we have one of these already?), we should be directing our resources at the next logical step: a moon base. It would be a magnificent platform for science, for observation of the universe, and for industry. It would also be good training for Mars. And it would begin the ultimate adventure: the colonization of other worlds.

 

In 1991, the Stafford Commission recommended the establishment of permanent human outposts on the moon and on Mars by the early decades of this century. Rather than frittering away billions on the space station, we should be going right now to the moon–where we’ve been, where we know how to go, and where we might very well discover life-sustaining materials. And from there, on to the planets.

 

In the end, we will surely go. But how long will it take? Five hundred years from now–a time as distant from us as is Columbus–a party of settlers on excursion to Mars’s South Pole will stumble across some strange wreckage, just as today we stumble across the wreckage of long-forgotten ships caught in Arctic ice. They’ll wonder what manner of creature it was that sent it.

 

What will we have told them? That after millennia of gazing at the heavens, we took one step into the void, then turned and, for the longest time, retreated to home and hearth? Or that we retained our nerve and hunger for horizons, and embraced our destiny?

 

Charles Krauthammer

 

 

Charles Krauthammer/Died June 21, 2018

Friday, June 22nd, 2018

Charles Krauthammer, M.D. died of metastatic cancer on June 21, 2018. His mind, his wit, his courage will be sorely missed. The following is a gracious tribute to him.

 

“The Irreplaceable Charles Krauthammer

The Washington Examiner

Philip Klein

June 22, 2018

 

 

Having worked in Washington conservative circles for over a decade, I wish I had a great personal anecdote to share about Charles Krauthammer, who by all accounts was as wonderful a human being as he was a writer.

 

Unfortunately, on the few occasions on which I had the opportunity to meet him, I was too tongue-tied and bumbling to sustain any sort of conversation, not quite knowing what to say to a man whom I felt I had so much to say.

 

As part of my job, I’ve had to interact with a number of public figures, and typically have had no qualms about pressing cabinet officials, presidential candidates, or members of Congress. Yet why is it that of all the people I’ve met in this city, I was so awestruck in the presence of another writer?

 

Of course, the answer is that it’s because Krauthammer wasn’t just another writer. In an era of YouTube and social media, when anybody with an Internet connection can spout out an opinion that could potentially go viral, it seems absurd to think of any political pundit as irreplaceable. Yet that’s the word I keep coming back to when I think of the sad passing of Charles Krauthammer. He is simply irreplaceable.

 

To start, Krauthammer was undeniably brilliant. After graduating from Harvard Medical School, he was well on his way to making a name for himself as a psychiatrist before changing course and entering the world of political writing. The fact that he was able to shift gears so seamlessly speaks to his mental agility.

 

But there are a lot of people who are brilliant. What was different about Krauthammer is that he was able to use his intellect to form opinions and then communicate them in an accessible way to broader audiences without dumbing down his arguments.

 

The 800-word column format presents a challenge to writers, who often struggle to make a broader point and provide enough evidence to back it up, without going into excessive detail. Krauthammer was a master of the format, and they weren’t typically filled with fancy prose or lengthy Latin phrases. Instead, his intelligence came through in the clarity of his thought and his ability to work through issues with reason using just enough supporting evidence.

 

His column ran every Friday, and while the rest of us rushed to weigh in on the ongoing controversies in Washington that consumed any given week, he managed to write something that took a bigger picture view, simultaneously seeming obvious yet fresh. For many conservatives, his columns often expressed ideas that were kind of floating around in their minds, but that they couldn’t quite articulate as clearly. He coined the term the ”Reagan Doctrine” to describe President Ronald Reagan’s strategy to win the Cold War, and “Bush Derangement Syndrome” to diagnose the hysterical way that opponents reacted to President George W. Bush.

 

Under President Barack Obama, Krauthammer set the standard for substantive criticism that was harsh yet steered clear of the bile and conspiratorial thinking that tempted some conservative pundits. Whether the issue was Obamacare, the disastrous Iran deal, executive overreach, or his parting shot toward Israel at the U.N., Krauthammer offered blistering yet fair critiques of Obama’s presidency.

 

Krauthammer made no secret of his disapproval of President Trump and fretted about the awful choice in the 2016 election, yet in his final column written last year, he expressed relief that the guardrails of democracy seemed to be keeping Trump’s worst impulses in check.

 

Perhaps above all, Krauthammer managed to convey a sense of moral clarity, something that was on full display whenever he wrote about Israel, and was also demonstrated in a powerful 2004 column in which he grappled with the issue of stem cell research and where to draw the line on medical experimentation given the “competing human values” of searching for cures and respecting life.

 

“When I was 22 and a first-year medical student, I suffered a spinal-cord injury,” he wrote. “I have not walked in 32 years. I would be delighted to do so again. But not at any price. I think it is more important to bequeath to my son a world that retains a moral compass…”

Charles Krauthammer has left this world far too soon and will be sorely missed, but his legacy will not soon be forgotten.

 

The Hoover Institution/Victor Davis Hanson

Sunday, May 13th, 2018

Victor Davis Hanson was one of the top conservative thinkers of the 20th century and remains so, as well, in our early 21st century. He has just received a highly coveted award from the Hoover Instite at Stanford University.

Victor Davis Hanson Wins Edmund Burke Award
Wednesday, May 2, 2018
Hoover Institution, Stanford University

This week Victor Davis Hanson won the 2018 Edmund Burke Award, which honors people who have made major contributions to the defense of Western civilization.

The honor is given annually by The New Criterion, a monthly journal of the arts and intellectual life. Edmund Burke was an 18th century Irish political philosopher who is credited with laying the foundations of modern conservatism.

Hanson, the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, studies and writes about the classics and military history. He received the sixth Edmund Burke Award for Service to Culture and Society at an April 26 dinner in New York City.

“I was honored to receive the award because Edmund Burke is often identified as both a defender of republican values and traditions and a foe of both autocracy and the radical mob rule of the French Revolution. I grew up on a farm and still live there most of the week. I’ve learned over a lifetime from rural neighbors and friends that agrarianism can inculcate a natural conservatism that I think Burke and others saw as an essential check on radicalism and an independence necessary to resist authoritarianism,” Hanson wrote in an email afterwards.

He noted that “candor, truth, and defiance in the face of historical and unfounded attacks on the West are essential.”

Western civilization has always been the only nexus where freedom, tolerance, constitutional government, human rights, economic prosperity, and security can be found together in their entirety, Hanson added.

“We can see that in the one-way nature of migrations from non-West to the West and in the alternatives on the world scene today. The great dangers to the West, ancient and modern, have always been its own successes, or rather the combination of the affluence that results from free-market capitalism and the entitlement accruing from consensual government. The result is that Westerners can become complacent, hypercritical of their own institutions, and convinced that they are not good if not perfect, or that the sins of mankind are the unique sins of the West,” he said.

This complacence, he said, and the idea that “utopia is attainable often results in amnesia” about the past and a sort of ignorance about the often brutal way the world works outside the West.

“Obviously if we do not defend our unique past and culture, who else will?” he said.

In his remarks on April 26, Roger Kimball, the editor and publisher of The New Criterion, said “Victor cuts across the chattering static of the ephemeral, bringing us back to a wisdom that is as clear-eyed and disabused as it is generous and serene.”

Hanson is also the chairman of the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict Working Group at the Hoover Institution.

Rebuilding Our Military

Tuesday, February 20th, 2018

After 8 years of deliberate neglect by the Obama Administration, the new Administration in Washington is bent on restoring our military might. The following is the thoughtful review on the subject of what is needed to achieve, once more, a military that can deal appropriately with all of the global dangers that confront us.

The Heritage Foundation

How Congress Can Start Rebuilding the Military Within New Budget Framework
Feb 16th, 2018
By
Frederico Bartels (Commentary)
and
Connor Ewing (Policy Analyst for defense budgeting)

Spring 2018 member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 raised the defense budget caps for both 2018 and 2019. For the coming year, the defense budget will be $647 billion, excluding war funds.

The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019 will determine how these resources are to be spent and provides a chance to continue reversing the current trend of deteriorating military strength.

The signs of a declining military are made evident in The Heritage Foundation’s Index of U.S. Military Strength. The inaugural edition of The Index in 2015 graded the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and nuclear platforms as marginal, and the Air Force as strong. The military received an overall grade of marginal.

In the latest edition, the Navy, Air Force, and nuclear platforms were graded as marginal, and the Army and Marine Corps as weak. The overall grade was again marginal.

Reversing this declining trend starts with properly allocating resources.

Congress can lead this effort in the upcoming National Defense Authorization Act. It can help the Defense Department increase the lethality of U.S. military force, strengthen international partnerships, and reform the department’s business practices.

Congress should increase, in a fiscally responsible manner, the defense budget cap for fiscal year 2019 to $664 billion. The Heritage Foundation assesses $664 billion to be a sufficient level of funding for fiscal year 2019 to continue rebuilding each of the armed services as well as the nuclear triad.

This will provide necessary resources for each branch to increase procurement, research and development, and fill critical needs, both in people and equipment.

Congress should enable the Army to start solving its single most critical issue: its inability to generate and maintain appropriate numbers of combat-ready brigade combat teams.

Congress needs to work with the Navy to increase its fleet size through accelerated procurement. Consistent and appropriate levels of yearly funding are necessary to make the goal of a 355-ship Navy feasible.

The Marine Corps has been suffering with aging and inadequate quantities of equipment. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act gives Congress an opportunity to boost the Corps’ modernization programs and speed up the acquisition of desperately needed new equipment and technology.

The Air Force has been plagued with aging platforms and a decreasing number of available pilots, as they continue to endure a high operational tempo. The 2019 bill must include the acceleration of advanced platforms and create incentive programs to retain pilots and maintainers.

The nuclear platforms are old and in need of replacement. The nuclear triad ought to be modernized with advanced delivery systems and nuclear weapons. Congress also needs to continue developing a layered missile defense system to ensure the U.S. is prepared to protect itself from ballistic missiles.

Strengthening alliances is also critical in the work of rebuilding the military. In Europe, Congress should support the European Deterrence Initiative and incentivize forward basing. Additionally, the United States needs to focus on a “NATO first” policy in Europe and discontinue support for the creation of a European Union army.

On the business-reform front, Congress can work to make the Defense Department more efficient. Even though the department did not request it, they should authorize a new round of base realignment and closures. That alone would save the Pentagon an estimated $2 billion yearly.

In addition, incentivizing the use of performance-based logistics could save $9 billion annually. Congress should also lift the moratorium on private-public competitions. These can provide more cost-effective services for the U.S. government.

It has been made clear over the past several years that the U.S. military has deteriorated in readiness, capacity, and capability. The 2019 National Defense Authorization Act needs to build on the success of 2018 and continue the process of rebuilding the military through strengthening alliances, increasing lethality, and bringing efficient business-oriented reform to the Defense Department.

It took years for the military to reach its current state of deterioration. It will take years to rebuild it.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal


William S. Frankl, MD, All Rights Reserved