Refuting the “Republicans treat military spending as sacred” lie


There’s a lie currently circulating that Republicans “treat military spending as sacred” and “don’t want to touch it” and don’t want to cut it at all. A young clerk working for the leftist-libertarian CATO Institute made these false claims in a question to Sen. Paul (and also accused those who oppose deep defense spending cuts of being “militaristically-minded”), who did not dispute those false claims and himself accused some of his Republican colleagues (and mentioned Sen. John McCain by name) of not wanting to cut military spending and treating it as “sacred”. See here. The NTU falsely claims on its website that defense is a “third rail” for Republicans.

But their claims are utterly false.

Republicans do not treat military spending as sacred, or as a sacred cow; they do want to touch and cut it and have done so. Since 2009, they have, in fact, agreed to serious defense cuts. In 2009 and 2010 (in FY2010 and FY2011), they agreed to the cancellation of over 50 crucial weapon programs, including the F-22, the Zumwalt class DDG, the Future Combat Systems, the MKV, the KEI, the Airborne Laser, the CGX cruiser, the EP-X plane, and more. In December 2010, they agreed to ratified the New START treaty. In 2011, they accepted Secretary Gates’ $178 bn worth of efficiencies and cuts, including cuts in the budget topline. And in August 2011, by voting for the Budget Control Act, they agreed to $487 bn in First Tier defense cuts.

What most Republicans and all conservatives oppose is sequestration, which would mean cutting defense spending by another $600 bn over 10 years ($60 bn per year) on top of all defense cuts already implemented and scheduled.

For an explanation why sequestration would be disastrous for the US military and national security, see here, here, and here. For an explanation why it would be disproportionate for defense, see here.

For an illustrated version how deep sequestration would be as a defense cut, see the following two graphs. The first comes from a CBO report on the subject, and the second one from the Bipartisan Policy Center.

These would not be mere “cuts to the rate of growth of defense spending”, these would be deep cuts – the deepest since the Korean War if taken together with cuts to OCO spending and its inevitable eventual abolition after the Afghan War ends. And these cuts would be disastrous and unacceptable, as confirmed unanimously by the Joint Chiefs, deputy service chiefs, other senior military officers, the DOD’s civilian military leaders, many retired military officers and troops, and outside experts such as those of the Heritage Foundation.

These cuts would be disastrous because they would dramatically reduce the amount of funding available for the DOD for personnel, benefits, training, base infrastructure, equipment, operations, and the maintenance of equipment and bases. Dramatic cuts in each of these categories, with dramatically reduced quantity and quality. This would result in an inferior military and jeopardized national security.

For example, as Deputy Secretary Carter has testified, training – including infantry training, tank miles, ship steaming days, and flight hours – would have to be significantly cut, thus dramatically undermining readiness. JCS Chairman General Martin Dempsey has said that if sequetration proceeds and personnel spending is exempted from it, the DOD can then cut only equipment, operations (including training), and maintenance, and that this would produce “the definition of a hollow force”.

(Regarding sequestration, there are only three possibilities: a) the Joint Chiefs are deliberately lying to scaremonger the public; b) the Joint Chiefs and other senior military officers are ignorant hacks who don’t know what they’re talking about; or c) the Joint Chiefs are actually right to sound the alarm bell. Which is it, folks?)

But you know what’s most funny? Even Sen. Paul’s budget plan would cancel defense sequestration by making spending cuts elsewhere (as would the budget plans proposed by Chairman Ryan, the RSC, Sen. Toomey, and Sen. Lee). Has Sen. Paul even read his own budget plan?

No, Republicans don’t treat military spending as “sacred” and don’t oppose any cuts to it. It is not a “third rail” for them. They just oppose excessive, disproportionately deep cuts to it. As do I.

The NTU, the CATO Institute hack, and Sen. Paul are lying (or are so ignorant that they don’t know what they’re talking about).

Shame on them for lying so blatantly.

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