Political Radar

Restoring clout

January 15th, 2015

From the In Case You Missed It file: Hawaii's congressional delegation was featured in the Washington, D.C.-based outlet The Hill, in a piece on how the members are attempting to recapture influence on defense and national security in the absence of former U.S. Sen. Daniel Akaka, who retired in 2012, and the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye, who died later that same year.

The article notes how U.S. Sen Brian Schatz was awarded a spot on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, once chaired by Inouye, while U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono last week was named the ranking member on the Senate Armed Service Committee’s Seapower subpanel.

Their fellow Democrats in the House, U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard and Mark Takai, have been  named to the "influential" Armed Services Committee. Both are Iraq War veterans.

The Hill states:

While the foursome has a long way to go before matching the outsized influence of Inouye, Akaka and former Rep. Neil Abercrombie, they are on a mission to ensure that Hawaii has sway in the national security debate.

The full article can be viewed HERE.


7 Responses to “Restoring clout”

  1. A Turkey:

    So if the military does cut out of Oahu, it will be their fault.
    Good to know.

  2. kamaaina808:

    Wrong deduction, if you actually read the article.

  3. Bart Dame:

    I recognize the delegation feels compelled to try to keep a strong military presence in Hawaii. I hope they fail in that effort. If we adopt any perspective, other than that of the small businesses who directly profit from the military presence, it does not make sense. Accordingly, the DoD is advocating the transfer of 19,800

    From a national perspective, even from a national perspective which emphasizes having a strong military, Hawaii is a very costly place to station troops. The training possibilities are greatly reduced in Hawaii compared to other bases on the North American continent. At one time, having ships and materiel assembled halfway across the Pacific meant a significant advantage for projecting military force onto Asia. That advantage has been greatly reduced.

    From a State of Hawaii perspective: the DOE website reports:

    "The average cost to educate a student in Hawaii is approximately $13,000. The average reimbursement for a federally impacted student is about $2,000, or 15 percent of the total cost. Hawaii taxpayers and the state government fund the remaining $11,000 balance."
    "During the 2013-14 school year, the state accounted for more than 28,000 federally connected students..."

    If Hawaii taxpayers pay an additional $11,000 per military dependent in our schools, $11,000 X 28,000 students = a $308,000,000 taxpayer subsidy. That is considerable! That is our costs AFTER receiving the limited "Federal Impact Aid."

    The officially approved point of view, which is pushed by our political and civic leaders, is that the military presence here is "good for the economy." Rarely is it pointed out every economic transaction has its costs and its benefits. And those costs and benefits are not borne evenly across the people;action. It is difficult to find an honest cost-benefit analysis of the military presence here. The Military Affairs Council of the Chamber of Commerce, serves as a semiofficial public relations operation for cheerleading the military presence. But they represent that segment which benefits and have little incentive to provide a balanced perspective which fairly reflects the costs and who bears them.

    Those of us who rent, especially near a military base, are aware how military housing allowances drive up the cost of rentals dramatically. On the one hand, that is a plus for landlords. But that is balanced by a negative cost for renters. Renters will benefit from downsizing the military presence. OTOH, renters rarely vote. So maybe it is reasonable for the politicians to care more about the interests of landlords?

    If/when the bases are downsized, the vacancies that will create in military housing will provide a significant boost in the supply of affordable housing for civilians. That would definitely be a plus.

    There are businesses located near bases which benefit from the presence of military families. Bars, restaurants, certain shops offer things which are not available for sale on-base. So those business owners and their employees benefit. And there are contractors and their employees, who benefit from military contracts. But increasingly, those contracts are being controlled by large national corporations, who sometimes bring in their own crews from the mainland or who do hire locally, but take enough of the top that such contracting is not as good for local businesses as it once was.

    If the military decides to close down some bases, that will free up land for other purposes. The US military controls over 20% of Oahu's land. That land can be put to productive uses which can provide jobs, housing, recreation for our people and tax revenue for our county and state governments.

    While I wish our delegation to congress had more clout, in this case, it may be better for us that they don't. in the past, when the DoD wanted to downsize the military here, Senator Inouye had enough clout to block those efforts, thwarting a decision which would have been more cost-effective for the US's overall military posture.

    The businesses who benefit from the military presence have raised a slogan:"Keep Hawaii's Heroes: Save Our Bases, Our Communities Depend on It." That blends together an appeal to patriotism along with a barely disguised appeal to pecuniary self-interest. It suddenly becomes disloyal, either to the nation or to our neighbors, not only if we question the net value of the military presence, but if we see this as an opportunity to plan for an orderly transition from military dependence. Because we are very likely to lose those 19,800 Army personnel. Maybe it is prudent to draw up some contingency plans instead of insisting all loyal people should stick their hands in the sand and pray this "threat" just goes away?

  4. Gary:

    Great job by Bart Dame. It's time for us locals to stop depending so much on the military for our economic well being and growth. We are ending wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It's time to down size!

  5. Chicken Grease:

    Bart Dame:
    January 16th, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    I recognize the delegation feels compelled to try to keep a strong military presence in Hawaii. I hope they fail in that effort . . .

    From a national perspective, even from a national perspective which emphasizes having a strong military, Hawaii is a very costly place to station troops

    Yeah. So, we can just get attacked. Glad you ain't running things. What drivel.

  6. Ted Baker:

    11 days since the last post, even though since then legislative session opened, Linda Lingle has taken up with a mainland governor, etc. RIP, "Political Radar." No more "ahead of the curve, never made the paper, inside scoop." Guess we'll have to settle for Borreca's twice-weekly bloviation and Shapiro's weekly eruption. Yawn.

  7. Ted Baker:

    "Alas, poor [Derrick]! I knew him . . . ; a fellow of infinite [political] jest, of most excellent [writing] fancy; . . . . Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment, that were wont to set [this blog] on a roar? (inspired by Hamlet)

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