Cold War Mindset Has to Change ‘Sooner’ or Later

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TPM Reader JH:

One interesting trend in your tracking of the unfolding budget narrative is that of Oklahoma. Yes, Oklahoma. Rep. Boren has joined Rep. Cole and Sen. Inhofe making the delegation bipartisan in its categorical and overheated denunciations of the proposed DOD budget.

This may be dismissed as simply delegates from a conservative state showing their support for the DOD, but I think there is something more to it than that: it’s local politics at its best. All three politicians are engaging in a game of who can be the biggest champion for Oklahoma’s military bases. …

Oklahoma is home to the Army’s Ft. Sill as well as Tinker, Vance, and Altus Air Force Bases. Bases are not only sources of pro-military voters, and jobs created by businesses supporting military families. As importantly, many DoD contractors proliferate in the shadows of many bases–witness the Tinker Industrial Park, “Oklahoma’s Intellectual Property” and home to 35 of the largest defense contractors.

The DOD budget will slash the Army’s Future Combat Systems and overall Air Force numbers — moves that could affect each of these bases and Oklahoma’s defense contractors.

No budget is perfect, but it will be important to distinguish principled critics from those protecting more parochial interests. In the coming days, we will see more defenders of the status quo coming forward to attack this budget. It won’t just be Oklahoma’s politicians who are protecting their jobs and bases.

That said, it will be possible to separate those raising policy concerns from those protecting narrow interests. By their hyperbole and their district’s defense contractors will ye know the critics of real reform. Count these three Oklahomans among the defenders of a seemingly intractable Cold War mindset to DoD funding. …

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David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.
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