"Which is why it makes sense to leave them where they are. Decommissioning is even more pricey"
Not really. A one-time cost to decommission, defrayed by salvage, versus a large recurring expense.
"Most of the cost is military. Personally, I think guarding holes in the desert is a much finer jobs program than bombing people in the Middle East."
Cant say that I disagree on that. But nukes are extremely expensive toys and the maintanence cost is huge, and NOT mostly on personel. Just maintaining the nuclear arsenal accounts for around $18million a year currently and it's rising every year.
These are very delicate, precision machines, and each and every one of them is a minimum of 20 years old, many much older than that. As time goes on they require more maintanence, and it becomes more expensive.
I'm no naive hippy and I am ok with paying for deterrence. But it's clear we could cut our stock in half tomorrow with no reduction in deterrence. An arsenal that is capable of destroying the entire planet is in no way inferior to one that would be capable of destroying the planet a dozen times. It just costs less.
What the US administration has been trying to do, however, is get the Russians to make some concessions in return for us reducing our stock. This just wasnt a great approach to take. It probably actually spooked the Russians, who wonder why we are so concerned about their arsenal, hmmm? And they have other reasons to resist. They have indicated they are not interested in bilateral agreements that were reasonable back in the cold war days. It's a multipolar world, there are many nuclear nations, not just two and their respective pack members. The Russians want negotiations that include all the other nuclear powers as well. And the US administration would probably find that very reasonable if it werent for Israel...
At any rate we should cut stock for a number of reasons. It would soothe the Russian fears and might well lead to them reducing their own stock in response, but that's not the reason to do it, that's just some possible gravy.
"If we were sick of throwing money into a pit, we wouldn't have approved TARP, TARP2, and we would have had some campaign promises kept, like closing Gitmo, and getting us out of our two major wars, instead of getting us into two new ones as well. That'd save a bunch of money right there."