|gain in the war on inflation of zero,
with each side cancelling out the other. Beyond that, to take the Business
Week projection a step farther, any additional $10 billion increases
in defense contracts would push the inflation rate still another 0.3 percent
higher. Balance the budget? Yes. Will it be a magic cure? Probably not.
* Cut Taxes.
One of the lines that you hear these days is that a tax cut in an inflationary
economy is like throwing gasoline on a fire. I agree. President Kennedy
was able to ask for, and get, a substantial tax cut in the early 1960s
and it helped stimulate a sluggish economy. But inflation was miniscule
in those days, and the times today have little in common with that period.
What an inflationary economy does not need is more money pumped into it
-- and that's exactly what a tax cut would accomplish. As this is written,
in fact, the people of Southern Arizona seem to agree: the first several
hundred questionnaires returned to my office show an overwhelming majority
favoring no tax cut, but an all-out effort against inflation instead. Any
way you cut it, a tax cut now is pure Snake Oil, and cruelly misleading.
* Hold Government Spending.
A look at the Carter budget policies during the President's first term
shows that a lot of programs have been cut, and that's reflected in our
smaller budget deficits. (Back during President Ford's term, this country
hit the all-time peacetime deficit record of $66 billion. I don't long
to return to those days.)
We have arrived at the point where we face a projected
$20 billion deficit in 1981, and the White House now is calling for more
cuts, aiming at a balanced budget this year. Well, why not transfer money
for other programs to defense? In all of the federal budget, only 23 percent
is subject to that kind of transfer. The remaining 73 percent is "locked
in." But why not repeal some of that 73 percent outright? Where would we
begin? Even my good Republican friends haven't found an answer to that
question. Last year, when the GOP submitted its "alternative budget," it
called for big -- but unspecified -- cuts in spending, and for
billion deficit! In any case, where government spending is concerned,
Congress has cut, has held the line, and is getting ready to cut more.
The record bears this out. It will bring the deficit closer to zero, but
it won't give us any new money.
Is Bigger Always Better?
At the end of World War II, it was said that the
three weapons that most helped to win the war were the jeep, the bazooka
and the atomic bomb.
One a highly-sophisticated, very costly and extraordinarily
deadly weapon, another cheap and semi-
|sophisticated and the third, cheaper
still and quite ordinary.
Americans have a fondness for being first and
that's a fondness I share. But many of us sometimes equate being first
with having the biggest. In our military situation, that translates into
having the biggest weapons.
But is biggest always best? Let's take a look
at a few:
* The B1 Bomber.
The most recent estimate puts a price tag of $100 million on each B1 bomber.
Once touted as an integral part of the mixed-force concept of the Air Force
that calls for a given number of missiles and bombers, the B1 now is not
even listed in the new Air Force budget. Why? Air Force Gen. David Jones,
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the plane was dropped in favor
of the Cruise missile because by the late 1980s, the Soviet Union will
have the capability to destroy 100 to
200 low-flying B1s much easier than
they can react against the smaller Cruise. Even Capitol Hill proponents
of the B1 have been told that if they push the project, they probably won't
get much help from the Air Force, because the Air Force isn't interested.
* The XM1 Tank.
This tank is already in production, at a cost of $1.5 million per tank.
It weighs between 60 and 63 tons, limiting its use on certain types of
terrain, and preventing more than one being airlifted at a time by our
biggest transport plane. This and other factors have caused the Army to
begin to look at development of another, light tank. Proponents can point
to the overwhelming number of tanks in the Soviet arsenal, but that isn't
worth much without considering that the United States also possesses the
highly-accurate TOW anti-tank missile (used by the Israelis with a startling
rate of success) and the deadly A10 "tank-killer" attack plane. Is numerical
superiority in tanks important, especially when we seem to have far-advanced
anti-tank capabilities? And is biggest (not to mention heaviest) really
the best? The Army's new interest in a light tank before the first few
dozen XM1s roll off the assembly line seems to indicate otherwise.
* The Trident Submarine.
Since the end of World War II, the United States has been one of the few
countries that has opted to build bigger and bigger submarines. The others
have elected to go for smaller subs.
In doing so, they may get about the same firepower
in more subs that in turn gives them far greater flexibility. Yet, here
we are, building a submarine called Trident -- as big as the Washington
monument and costing $1.4 billion per sub, not including another $900 million
just for the missiles it will carry. Trident is big, and it can be a big
target, and once we lose one of these, where is our back-up? And is it
really wise to put this much of our Navy budget into just a few big submarines?
* The Neutron Bomb.
Like something out of Buck Rogers, this was to be a nuclear bomb
that would kill people but leave property intact. One can wonder if either
side possesses some sort of advantage because they have perfected a bomb
that vaporizes people but doesn't touch the general store. The efficiency
of a nuclear weapon depends on the delivery system, and not the refinement
of warheads we already have. I did not support this measure in Congress,
and President Carter later scrapped the whole program. Not even staunch
proponents have moved to resurrect this bad and expensive idea. (There
is no reliable cost estimate for the Neutron bomb, but it's safe to guess
it would run into the millions of dollars.)