This past weekend, President Donald Trump attended the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier in Virginia. This ship is notable for many things, two in particular: it represents the future of America’s naval defense, and it is burdened with $2.4 billion in cost overruns. Now, today, Trump announced that our military cannot—simply cannot!—afford the hypothetical extra medical costs of troops who happen to be transgender.
Get excited, America: today is the day we have decided to be responsible about defense spending, and this is the reason why. President Donald Trump has decided that now, of all times, is the time to tighten the defense budget’s purse strings by banning transgender soldiers from serving in the military.
Trump’s move reverses former President Barack Obama’s June 2016 decision to allow transgender Americans to serve. Citing “tremendous medical costs,” he said allowing these people to fight along side their fellow soldiers would cause “disruption.”
And let’s not for the Twitter Gremlins:
Let’s acknowledge that, on a human level, this is cruel, and contradictory to what Trump himself said a year ago when he promised to defend LGBT rights.
Let’s also acknowledge that, a year ago, former Defense Secretary Ash Carter commissioned a study on allowing transgender troops to serve from the RAND Corporation and it found, simply put, that it’d be no big deal. From The Failing New York Times:
A study commissioned by Mr. Carter and carried out by the RAND Corporation found that allowing transgender people to serve openly would “cost little and have no significant impact on unit readiness.”
The study estimated that 2,450 active-duty members were transgender and predicted that around 65 would seek to transition each year. It estimated that the cost to the Pentagon of those procedures would be $2.9 million to $4.2 million a year.
The study predicted that service members would not seek to transition were the procedures not covered by the Pentagon, and that they would likely have higher rates of substance abuse and suicide as a result.
So is Trump’s financial argument bullshit today? Oh yeah. It is widely known that the Pentagon wastes billions of dollars per year and Congress is doing jack shit about it.
Last year, The Washington Post reported that an internal study of the Pentagon’s budget from 2015 found more than $125 billion in waste. If, the report concluded, the brass accepted its recommendations, that amount of money could be saved over a five-year period up to 2020.
And it would not have required layoffs and reductions in troops. Rather, it would “have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology,” the Post reported.
Of course, Pentagon leadership suppressed the report because they didn’t want their future budgets reduced, which should have been the case anyway.
The Pentagon also spends “$42 million on name-brand Viagra and $84 million on erectile dysfunction drugs in general,” as reported today by our friends at Lifehacker. Oh, and those trips to Mar-a-Lago for the Vacationer-in-Chief are $3.6 million a pop.
So, thats tens of millions of dollars being spent on boners and living it up in Florida.
Chelsea Manning, the former United States Army soldier implicated in the WikiLeaks scandal and perhaps one of the most high-profile transgender people tied to military issues at the moment, drew the comparison to the F-35:
If you read Foxtrot Alpha, you know we’ve reported extensively of how much of a fucking money leech that jet is. To secure 2,443 fighters for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, the Pentagon has to cough up $379 billion. On top of that, costs are expected to skyrocket if leadership doesn’t improve its management of the platform, as we reported earlier.
The costs of providing medical care to transgender soldiers? At most, $8.4 million each year.
But we all know none of this has anything to do with costs. Trump is using transgender soldiers’ medical rights as a political weapon. At least that is one White House source alluded to in a conversation with Jonathan Swan at Axios:
There is no evidence to suggest that providing medical care to transgender troops will hinder combat performance. Hell, the Pentagon didn’t even know Trump was going to announce the ban. It’s a deeply cynical political move, and not an especially slick one; nor is it one that makes America or her military look especially good at the moment.
In reality, it costs two or three trips to his golf course in Florida to fully support the men and women who put their lives on the line to fight for a nation that refuses to treat them like full human beings.