A Republican Senate candidate running in PA, Sam Rohrer, says this on his campaign website about defense:
“This Video in the “Truth Matters Series” is about the all important issue of providing for America’s National Defense. One of the very few responsibilities granted to the Federal Government is to provide for the common defense and the power to declare war.
Maintaining a strong national defense has long been a core value of the Republican Party. In order to fulfill the Constitutional mandate to protect American property and interests, America must have its interests here and around the world well defined. Foremost in America’s foreign-policy is the necessity to assess our ability to defend our Nation in the context of our fiscal capacity. In other words, do we have the money to pay what needs to be done?
Foreign-policy is an extremely important responsibility of the United States Senate. I will expand further in this Series on specific issues of foreign-policy. However, this “Truth Matters” concerns the obligation to defend American interests in an increasing hostile global environment.
While there is a necessity to maintain the strongest military in the world – 2nd to none, there is waste and widespread duplication and an opportunity to safely reduce cost. Advisors reporting to leading conservative Senators such as Senator Coburn in the Senate have identified the fact that there is much ignorance in the Executive Branch regarding our military budget.
Certain administrations have used the military as a political football. The Obama-Casey administration is heading down a road that can be described as giving abusive treatment on military personnel and leadership. Every time President Obama apologizes for America he weakens our strength in the world, but more importantly his administration weakens our military structure. Refusing to acknowledge the ongoing threat from Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations, by failing to identify an enemy by name – “radical Islamic militants”, puts American lives and interests at risk. This weakening of our military must stop.
I urge you and all of us to think hard about our future about the current direction and future of our Nations Defense Policy for our children and grandchildren. Freedom is not to be trifled with. As Ronald Reagan once said, “Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”
Will you stand with me in this vital cause of a strong National defense? Please watch the next video in the Truth Matters Video Series and please, share it with your friends. They need to know this message. And that’s the truth.”
He has also recorded a video in which he elaborates on this issue and condemns Obama’s cuts of the US nuclear arsenal (to levels not seen since 1950) and America’s military personnel numbers: http://www.rohrerforsenate.org/blog/
What am I to make of Rohrer? And what are Pennsylvania voters to make of him?
It’s great that he opposes, in general, in principle, the goal of a strong national defense and that he opposes Obama’s cuts of the US nuclear arsenal. Few Republicans have actually spoken out against them. I’m also glad he opposes using the military as a political football. It is necessary for Pennsylvania to have another Senator, besides, Pat Toomey, who would oppose deep cuts to the military’s muscle and bone, deep cuts in the US nuclear arsenal, and the policy of using the military as a political football.
So far, so good. But Rohrer also seems to be open to deep cuts in the US defense budget, specifically, those along the lines proposed by Tom Coburn. And that’s not good.
He claims that “conservative analysts” working for “leading conservative Senators such as Senator Coburn” have identified gross “waste and duplication” in the defense budget and have found that there is “much ignorance in the Executive Branch about our military budget”.
But the amount of waste in the defense budget is often exaggerated, and the “savings” that Coburn has identified would be, in large majority, cuts to the actual military capabilities of the military – i.e. cuts to its meat and bone – rather than eliminations of wasteful and duplicative programs. Coburn’s cuts would mostly fall on the force structure (e.g. the carrier, SSBN, and ICBM fleets) and on crucial equipment programs (such as the V-22 and the F-35 B and C variants) instead of wasteful spending. And his cuts proposals are based on rosy, overoptimistic, unrealistic assumptions that basically assume that there will be no significant threats to the US. His proposals to cut the ICBM, SSBN, and bomber fleets, to delay the next-gen bomber into the 2020s, and to cut the US nuclear arsenal would even invite a nuclear first strike by Russia.
Rohrer is very mistaken to endorse such proposals and reports.
Moreover, Coburn is not a “leading conservative Senator”; he’s not conservative at all. He’s an anti-defense libertarian who is willing to deeply cut ONLY defense spending. He is not willing to cut anything else deeply. If his “Back to Black” plan were ever implemented (God forbid), all departments other than the DOD would see only relatively small, trivial budget cuts.
I hope Sam Rohrer will understand this. But I also know that he would, most of the time, defend the military, while it’s certain that neither his primary competitors nor his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey, would do so. He’s hardly a perfect candidate, but his opponents are even worse.