Trump Right to Cancel Military Parade, Cost Too High

President Donald Trump wants the United States to hold a military parade, a common practice in many countries, including France and Russia. The original goal was to hold one in 2018, but as planning has gotten underway, it’s being delayed until 2019. Taking to Twitter, Trump announced:

We’ll have to wait for the juicy details and why the parade was set to cost so much. It’s possible that the costs were legitimate, and that holding a parade will simply be immensely expensive. It’s also possible that local officials tried to pack in some pork.

I, for one, laud the President for admitting that the price tag was simply too high. Originally, it was thought that the military parade would cost only around $12 million. However, costs have since exploded, with $92 million cited as the most recent price tag. $50 million would be paid by the Pentagon, with other government agencies chipping in the rest.

Military parades are common in many countries, but rare in the United States. Typically, they have been held during or after the conclusion of wars. President George H.W. Bush staged a parade in 1991 at the conclusion of the first Gulf War. In 1946, the United States staged a massive parade in New York City, following the end of World War II and the return of many American troops.

Some argue that such a parade is a sign of authoritarianism. Personally, I don’t buy that argument. The parade was largely inspired by France’s annual Bastille Day military parade, and France is far from an authoritarian government. Respecting and honoring our soldiers doesn’t have to be a sign of authoritarianism, unless you intentionally make it one.

Still, the exploding costs must be closely considered. Deficits have surged by 20 percent and are projected to rise in the near future. While $92 million may not seem like much when considering the near trillion dollar deficit, a penny saved is a penny earned. Social Security trust funds are set to run out by 2034, and analysts warn that by 2024, simply meeting interest payments will exceed spending on defense.

Ultimately, spending on military parades for our enjoyment now will have to be paid by future generations. With the Pentagon set to consume more than $700 billion per year, adding additional costs that won’t really improve our military capacity seems wasteful. Our men and women in uniform certainly deserve to be honored, but finding a more cost-effective way to do so seems appropriate given America’s financial situation.

Regarding the national debt, we can point fingers all we want. Should George W. Bush take most of the blame for his expensive tax cuts and the tremendous costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Should President Obama take the blame for his expensive stimulus measures during the Great Recession, which he inherited from Bush? Or should President Trump shoulder the blame for his expensive tax cuts and profligate spending? (I mention Presidents, but to be clear, Congress has the biggest say in writing budgets and expenditures.)

Fact is, it doesn’t matter. The time has come for America to start tightening its belt. If not, we risk burdening future generations with undue debt. America could probably afford a $12 million dollar parade, but at nearly $100 million, we need to consider the burden closely.

The opinions expressed here by contributors are their own and are not the view of OpsLens which seeks to provide a platform for experience-driven commentary on today's trending headlines in the U.S. and around the world. Have a different opinion or something more to add on this topic? Contact us for guidelines on submitting your own experience-driven commentary.
Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is a political consultant and has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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