House Republicans Try to Kill Defense Cuts

House Republicans Try to Kill Defense Cuts March 21, 2012

The bipartisan consensus in favor of keeping American military spending at astronomical levels forever rises is once again expressed in a new budget bill from House Republicans that would eliminate even the tiny defense spending cuts agreed to by both parties last year.

Some Republicans not wanting to flirt with national security have said they want to keep defense out of the negotiations surrounding the sequester, which are expected to last until after the November elections. Panetta has stated any further cuts could be “devastating,” but has insisted Congress should negotiate on taxes and spending in a comprehensive way without pulling defense.

The bill is expected to emulate some aspects of a proposal first introduced by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., in December. McKeon’s original bill would delay the first year of defense cuts mandated by the sequester, instead offering an equivalent amount through federal workforce cuts. Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member John McCain, R-Ariz., has introduced a similar measure.

Republican defense leaders have protested that the military was taking the brunt of spending cuts. But by firewalling defense from further cuts, House Republicans would need to pay for those expected cuts another way. At a House Budget Committee hearing, Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told Panetta he felt entitlement spending should be on the table.

“With regards to the Budget Control Act, an across-the-board $97 billion discretionary spending cut will be imposed on January 2, 2013, including devastating cuts to our national security,” Ryan said in statement provided to National Journal. “House Republicans are continuing their efforts to reprioritize the savings called for under the Budget Control Act, because our troops and military families shouldn’t pay the price for Washington’s failure to take action.”

Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement, “The Speaker and Chairman McKeon are working towards a shared goal: ensuring that we have $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction, but doing it in a way that does not ‘hollow out’ our Armed Forces or jeopardize our national security.”

Isn’t it interesting how the leaders of both parties agree that even a miniscule cut to defense spending — a whopping $60 billion a year — would be “devastating” to the country’s national security. Because apparently spending only 46% of the entire world’s spending on the military instead of 47% would risk … what, exactly? Not only do they have only fear to sell, it’s an entirely irrational fear.

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  • schism

    I’ve always wondered what percentage of Congress’ total gross income originated from the Defense Department. I’m sure it’s a pretty big number.

  • Hercules Grytpype-Thynne

    . . . not wanting to flirt with national security . . .

    Paging Inigo Montoya.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I think this is what the Right means by “shared sacrifice:” we hold the economy of the USA hostage and negotiate a deal that involves serious cuts to domestic spending, then give a committee power to propose legislation that will reduce the deficit under a threat that’s supposed to make both the Republican and Democratic members want to come to a deal because it makes deep cuts to both domestic spending (which the Democrats don’t want) and military spending (which the Republicans don’t want.) The committee fails to reach an agreement because, in large part, tax increases and cuts to military spending are totally off the table.

    Thus the automatic cuts to both domestic spending and military spending go into the queue.

    Forward several months.

    Well, those military cuts are so terrifying that the only thing to do is renege on the deal and implement domestic cuts instead. In particular, to avoid the horror of not getting another carrier and some other spiffy hardware which will somehow be better “for the troops” than VA benefits, which have to be cut to pay for the hardware.

    Got it.

  • mrbongo

    Just popped in to see all the crowing and celebration that the guy shooting little kids in the head in Toulouse was a neo-nazi and a far-right christian. Man, this even lets all of you ignore Islamist aggression. It also supports Chiroptera et al’s assertion that fundy xtianity is far more dangerous than Islam.

    Oh wait, Mohammed Merah wasn’t a neo-nazi xtian like CNN and the Ny Times have been hoping for so hard the past few days? What is that I hear? He is yet another Muslim terrorist born and raised in the West?

    Ahhh….. then that must explain the complete silence about the topic in here.

  • slc1

    Re mrbongo @ #4

    Mr bongo forgot to mention that the same perpetrator also murdered 3 French Army paratroopers who, oddly enough, were Muslims.

  • These “hey, you’re ignoring (insert story x)” arguments are just so fucking moronic. I don’t even know what the the fuck you’re talking about. There’s a lot of shit going on in the world, not all of which I’m going to know about — especially when I’ve been busy preparing for a two-week trip that will span several states and multiple events. But I don’t know about — and therefore don’t write about — something going in France, there must be some nefarious reason for it. Seriously, go fuck yourself.

  • slc1

    Re mrbongo @ #4

    I would also point out to Mr. Bongo that the three major newspapers in Israel, the Jerusalem Post, Haaretz, and Ynet were also printing claims that the perpetrator was a neo-nazi former paratrooper. But of course, those news outlets are in league with CNN and the NY Times to whitewash Muslim terrorists.

  • kenbo

    Defense contracts are big, big, big, big business.

    What I love is the framing of the argument that any cuts will “hollow out our armed forces.” Someone should publish the figures on how much of “defense spending” actually ends up in the pockets of our military personnel versus how much ends up getting paid out in dividends of Lockheed Martin shares. And that is only one company of many, many, many, many defense contractors.


  • We have to keep the military strong, if only for Paul Ryan’s upcoming War on the Elderly. And also the War on the Poor. Weather permitting, also the War on What’s Left of the Middle Class.

  • @3:

    My thoughts exactly. What this clearly demonstrates is that the Republicans were never, ever operating in good faith. It was bad enough that they were engaged in blackmail and had nothing to offer other than not destroying the country, worse still that they demanded a deal 100% in their favor with insulting terms. But now that the terms of a deal tilted heavily in their favor are coming due, they won’t even honor that.

  • gshevlin

    What the political parties are really saying is not “cutting defense spending will erode US national security”. You have to look past that stirring-sounding rhetoric.

    The real subtext is “cutting defense spending threatens to eliminate jobs all over the USA, and this is Election Season. None of us can be seen to be reducing employment in a recession”.

    The defense sector in the USA is an employment generator of the first magnitude. I read somewhere that a large US Navy ship (say a large cruiser) has anything up to 50,000 jobs directly or indirectly connected to it, most of them local to its home port. Start mothballing ships and closing air bases, and the employment consequences will be very noticeable and immediate. Couple that with election season and the reality that Pork Wins Elections, and it is easy to see why defense spending cuts are suddenly being rationalized off the table.

  • John Hinkle

    Who’s in charge of the federal budget anyway, Congress and the People, or the military?

    Wait, don’t answer that…

  • Michael Heath

    It’s not just absurd the GOP obstructs cutting the defense budget, but they all vociferously favor cutting federal, state, and local outlays which optimally grow a developed economy in a way which helps keep effective tax rates down for everyone (because growth fuels tax revenues more than if the government doesn’t outlay funds on projects/programs which grow an economy).

    They fail miserably at math story problems which one can easily solve if they’ve mastered Algebra I.

  • Last time I checked, our enemy du jour in Iran spent 4 percent of the amount USia spent on weapons. And most of the top 10 spenders were USian allies.

    I’m beginning to think the difference between the U.S. and a banana republic is that we don’t grow bananas.

  • slc1

    Re Michael Heath @ #13

    Heath just doesn’t get it. Government doesn’t create jobs, government destroys jobs. End snark.

  • uzza

    Before you defend, you should have something worth defending.

  • Infophile

    Cutting the defense budget by this amount would have zero effect on national security. I’m not being hyperbolic here; I actually mean zero. Defense contractors know that the US military is grossly overfunded, so they charge ridiculous rates because they can get away with it, and they profit obscenely from it. If the military were slightly less grossly overfunded, contractors would simply end up charging less and profiting less, while the military would be able to get exactly as much out of them.

    I recall hearing an estimate a while back that the US military’s budget could be cut by up to 25% with zero effect on operational readiness. Complaining about $60 billion is just ridiculous, and simply proves that defense contractors are bribing congresspeople to maximize their profits.

  • abb3w

    Hey mrbongo, if you think a potential dispatch has been missed, you might try tracking down Ed’s email address and sending him a suggested link. You might bear in mind that his primary focus is the US front of the culture war, and even there it sometimes takes up to a week before they percolate to his attention.

  • jnorris

    IIRC there is a Dept of Defense installation or a defense contractor in every congressional district. No congress-critter is going to support any reduction to home district federal welfare.

  • geocatherder

    Husband and I are building a vacation/retirement home in McKeon’s district, so I’ve subscribed to the newsletters he sends to his constituents. The man is so far right (for my liberal sensibilities) that my stomach barely makes it through his newsletters. I hope the demographic shifts a bit and people aren’t voting for the McKeons of the district by the time we retire… otherwise I’m going to be writing to the rethug-in-office every other day with some complaint.

  • Chiroptera

    mrbongo, #4: It also supports Chiroptera et al’s assertion that fundy xtianity is far more dangerous than Islam.

    Huh? I get mentioned by name? Does this mean…that I’ve finally earned my very own mortal enemy?

    My mother will be so proud!