Most Republicans already know that former Utah governor Jon Huntsman is a strident liberal. When he was the US Ambassador to China, he frequently wrote Obama letters telling him how supposedly great Obama is. As Governor of Utah, he implemented a socialized medicine in his state. He believes that a cap-and-tax scheme is a fantastic idea. He believes that the problem with Obama’s porkulus was that it wasn’t big enough.
But what most Americans, including most Republicans don’t know, and what I didn’t know until today, when I read the Esquire article quoted below, is that Huntsman is also liberal on defense issues. He supports massive defense cuts and claims ludicrous excuses for them, giving the American people a false choice and deliberately not distinguishing DOD savings (which are possible and necessary) with defense cuts (i.e. taking money out of defense accounts and redirecting them to some other purpose, e.g. deficit reduction). The Esquire magazine says:
“Huntsman also said that he wouldn’t have intervened in Libya — “We just can’t afford it” — and would seek to make serious cuts in the military’s budget. “If you can’t find anything there to cut, you’re not looking hard enough.”
In a week when the New York Times described Monday’s G.O.P. debate as “full of historical error, economic obfuscation, avoidance of hard truths and even outright bigotry,” Huntsman — despite being a former Obama appointee — may have found his opening. The fifty-one-year-old father of seven told Esquire that he plans on running a campaign built in part on the parallel platforms of debt reduction and ending the war in Afghanistan.”
Don’t get me wrong. I oppose the Libyan and Afghan wars. But on the defense budget, Huntsman is flat wrong.
Yes, some savings (actually, many savings, totalling at least $23 bn per year) can and should be made in it. But any savings made at the DOD must be reinvested in the DOD. This money needs to be reinvested in modernization. America’s total defense budget ($513 bn for FY2011, i.e. less than 15% of the total federal budget and a tiny 3.5% of GDP) is already inadequate, and so is the DOD’s spending on military modernization. This year, the DOD plans to buy 85% fewer fighterplanes and missiles than it did in CY1985, for example. The Air Force’s current fleet of aircraft is the oldest, and simoultaneously the smallest, it has ever flown.
So yes, some savings can and should be made at the DOD, on top of what Secretary Gates announced in January, but the overall size of the defense budget should not be reduced, and neither should be its modernization spending component.
Also, Huntsman and Esquire said this as if significant cuts of the defense budget have not been made. But that’s not true. Defense spending has been reduced from $534 bn in 2009 dollars ($550 in 2011’s money) to $513 bn this fiscal year, or from 3.65% to 3.50% of GDP. This reduction has been painful for the military. So defense spending has already been cut.
Jon Huntsman is a traitor, and at the same time, a strident liberal. No real conservative, and no real American patriot, would ever vote for him.