Recently, Rand Paul, the son of Congressman Ron Paul, has been caught lying to voters to get them to vote for his loathsome father. While falsely claiming that “national defense is the #1 priority for Ron Paul” (if I had a nickel for every time I heard that!), he claimed that the US can afford to cut military spending further by significant amounts, that military spending has doubled over the last decade, and that Ron Paul would “compromise with liberals” and “reach across the aisle” to get them to vote for his $1 trillion annual spending cuts.
As far as Ron Paul pledging to “compromise with liberals” in cutting military spending significantly, we can be sure of that. Ron Paul has repeatedly “reached across the aisle” to collaborate with liberals to cut defense spending (and only defense spending) and to gut America’s military. But all other claims of Sen. Rand Paul are false.
Firstly, military spending has NOT doubled over the last decade. Not even close. It has grown from $390 bn (in today’s money; $297 bn in FY2001 dollars) from FY2001 to $662 bn this FY (per the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act). That is growth of merely 69% – not even close to doubling. While 69% might still sound like a staggering percentage, remember that this growth has occurred over a DECADE, not in one fiscal year. Measured over a decade, it is quite modest. And I’m counting the ENTIRE military budget here, not just the core defense budget. Total military spending has increased only slightly as a share of GDP, from 3.0% in FY2001 to 4.51% today.
Secondly, no, America cannot afford to cut its military spending any further by any significant amounts without harming its military and jeopardizing its national security. President Obama has already cut defense spending by hundreds of billions of dollars ($330 bn worth of cuts in FY2010 and FY2011 by closing over 50 weapon programs; $178 bn in cuts for FY2012-FY2016 announced by Sec. Gates in January 2011) and plans to cut it further by a whopping $487 bn, which WILL weaken the military (e.g. by dramatically cutting the US nuclear arsenal). Further cuts cannot be made without gutting the military. That is a fact.
That is because behind each defense cut hides a number of training hours, steaming hours, weapon inventories, modernization programs, units, troops, or benefits that would be cut or eliminated as a result, thus weakening the military and/or breaking faith with military personnel. Defense spending is not spending for the sole purpose of spending; it pays for the nation’s defense programs – training hours, fuel, operation and maintenance programs, the base infrastructure, weapon inventories, modernization, R&D, units, troops’ salaries, and benefits.
The US already spends only 4.51% of its GDP on the military, with the core defense budget constituting just 3.59% of GDP. It cannot afford to cut defense spending any further.
And let’s not fool ourselves: liberals will never accept any small defense cuts; they will accept only such that WOULD gut the military, because that’s their goal.
Sen. Paul claimed that “conservatives like Sen. Coburn and Sen. Demint support defense cuts and understand they’re necessary.” I’m not aware of Sen. Demint ever saying that. As for Coburn, he’s not a conservative, he’s an utterly-discredited anti-defense libertarian whose defense cuts proposals, if implemented, would totally gut the military (for detailed reasons why, see here and here). Moreover, if you support any defense cuts – let alone those of the $1 trillion magnitude that Sen. Coburn has proposed – YOU ARE NOT A CONSERVATIVE, PERIOD.
Thankfully, when Frank Luntz asked the audience whether they agreed with Sen. Paul, the vast majority said “no”. Good to know that there are still many Americans who reject defense cuts and are not fooled by Sen. Paul’s and Congressman Paul’s false promises.
Sen. Paul clearly thinks that “compromising with liberals” is a good idea. As a conservative, I reject that. I don’t want any compromise with liberals at all. It is neither needed nor acceptable. Not needed, because Republicans are projected to retain their sizeable House majority and retake the Senate (with up to 10 seats being up for grabs for Republicans according to Larry Sabato’s website), so the Democrats will not be needed at all. Not acceptable, because as I said, the Dems would accept only such defense cuts that would gut the military, and because of the GOP’s experience of compromising with liberals. What did Reagan’s compromises with the House and Senate Democrats of his day do? What did GOP compromises with Clinton do? What did GOP-Dem compromises such as McCain-Feingold, McCain-Kennedy, the FY2011 ConRes, and the August 2011 debt ceiling deal do? Nothing good, only damage. As Tim Durkin rightly points out, too many Republicans – including, as we now know, Sen. Paul and Congressman Paul, are too eager to compromise with liberals instead of fighting for conservative policies.
Sen. Paul claims that “everything has to be on the table, including military spending”, as if it had been off-the-table for now. That is false. Military spending has ALWAYS been on the table, as demonstrated by the cuts of FY2010, FY2011, and FY2012, as well as the New START treaty. Any claim that military spending has been off the table is a blatant lie.
And, as history (including the last 3 years) has shown, whenever military spending is put on the table, it quickly becomes the ONLY thing on the table.
And, as the Republican Study Committee and the Heritage Foundation have both shown, the federal budget can be balanced without defense cuts.
No surprise that Sen. Paul convinced only 2 people on defense and foreign issues, acknowledging that he still has a lot of work to do.
Paul also claimed that for his father, “national defense is the #1 issue”, yet he’s the one who has proposed and endorsed many deep defense cuts on every occassion, including the cuts proposed by Barney Frank and his “SDTF” in 2010 and the sequestration mechanism. Paul has even proposed defense cuts that would go deeper than the sequester!
No, for Ron Paul, national defense is not the #1 priority, merely an afterthough. He treats it even worse than entitlements. No wonder strident anti-defense liberals like Keith Olbermann and Jon Stewart support him for the GOP nomination.
He brought up Iran and likened the standoff with Iran to the Cuban missile crisis, then claimed that in foreign policy shouldn’t always be war. That’s a straw man claim. No Republican candidate wants war. Few Republican candidates want it. No Republican candidate, and no prominent Republican figure, is suggesting that America’s first choice on any issue – let alone Iran – should be war. What most Republicans are saying is that IF, and I repeat IF, Iran cannot be deterred and all non-war options fail, the US should bomb Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program.
As for the Cuban missile crisis, the story didn’t happen exactly as Sen. Paul narrated it. True, President Kennedy compromised with the Soviet Union and removed American missiles from Turkey and Britain, while the USSR removed its own missiles from Cuba. But before that, President Kennedy instituted a naval blockade (which would be considered an act of war) and warned the Kremlin that any missile launched from Cuba against any nation in the Western Hemisphere would be considered an attack by the Soviet Union on the United States, requiring a full and devastating retaliation against the Soviet Union. And he had a vast nuclear arsenal to back that up. THAT is what deterred the Russians and convinced them to compromise. Ron Paul would’ve never done that – he would’ve blamed America for the crisis and would’ve capitulated to the Russians.
As for Iran, deterrence might work with it, but only if it’s backed up by a credible, large, survivable nuclear deterrent. Yet, America’s nuclear arsenal is decaying through neglect, underfunding, and treaty- and Obama-Admin-whim-mandated cuts, and the Administration plans further unilateral cuts in it. And yet, Ron Paul proposes even further defense cuts, which would inevitably mean cuts in the nuclear arsenal. He supported such cuts in 2010, as did Barney Frank and Ron Wyden. He also supports the sequester, which would eliminate one leg of the nuclear triad (the ICBM leg) immediately and the other two legs over time through nonreplacement, as well as eliminating any plans for any new missile defense systems.
How the hell would Paul deter Iran without a credible nuclear deterrent and at least a modest missile defense system? He can’t. That is a fact.