Rebuttal of Grover Norquist’s blatant lies

Islamist lover, anti defense hack, and lifelong lobbyist Grover Norquist has delivered yet another anti-defense tirade, clamoring for deep defense cuts (including sequestration), bashing Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and other “defense hawks”, and making a litany of blatant lies, while speaking at the “Center for National Interest”, formerly the Nixon Center.

FP’s liberal columnist Josh Rogin has reported this garbage, uttered of course by the Islamist-loving lifelong lobbyist Grover Norquist, who has accused the US of conducting an “occupation” of Afghanistan and Iraq, when in reality the US has LIBERATED these two countries.

Norquist is attacking straw men arguments here. NO ONE is claiming that some savings cannot be found in, or that there is no waste in, the defense budget. But the fact is that making excessive defense budget cuts – such as sequestration – would severely weaken the US military and thus jeopardize national security. And that is because deep cuts would go way beyond waste and force the US military to jettison NEEDED military capabilities, units, and systems. There’s no way around this fact. Any deep cuts mean much fewer troops, much worse training, and much less equipment.

There is a world of a difference between claiming that some savings can be made in, and that waste needs to be rooted out of, the defense budget, and on the other hand saying that deep, across-the-board defense budget cuts (such as sequestration) are justified and can be made without jeopardizing ntional security. There’s a whole world of a difference between those two types of statements.

It is also completely false to claim that Romney and Ryan say that no savings can be found in the defense budget. In fact, Romney and his defense issues advisor, Jim Talent, have repeatedly said that savings can be found there, especially in the weapon development/procurement and the personnel cost departments.

For his part, Paul Ryan applauded Barack Obama’s closure of over 50 crucial weapon programs in 2009 and 2010.

As for myself, I am very proud of the fact that I’m the author of the largest defense reforms proposals package ever developed by anyone, the Defense Reform Proposals Package, whose latest edition I published on June 26th.

So when Norquist claimed that “he defense hawks were not serious about saving money or reforming the Pentagon” and that “If you’re not looking like you’re trying, nobody wants to help you, starting with me… There’s a lack of seriousness…”, he lied. We the supporters of a strong defense want to reform the DOD, and many of us, including myself, have specific plans to do so. What we oppose are deep, arbitrary, across the board defense cuts, which would be disastrous for this country.

Furthermore, claiming that Norquist “will fight using any new revenues to keep military spending high” is patently false. It’s another straw man argument. America’s military spending is not high – it amounts to just 4.22% of the country’s GDP and less than 17% of the total federal budget. Claiming that it’s high is a blatant lie. Furthermore, the battle is not about “keeping military spending high”, but rather about preventing sequestration – the second, deeper tranche of defense cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act, coming on top of the first round, worth 487 bn USD.

Norquist claims he supports “noninterventionism”, but “noninterventionism” is just another euphemism for “isolationism”. It is an utterly failed policy which was tried again and again and failed abysmally each time it was tried. Not just “failed”, but “failed abysmally”. It was tried for several years during the early years of the Republic, and it failed utterly, because neither France nor Britain respected America’s official neutral status; Britain’s disrespect of that status even led to the War of 1812, which was the subject of my MA thesis. It was tried again in the 1930s in the run-up to WW2, and was utterly discredited at Pearl Harbor. If tried again, it would fail utterly and spectacularly.

The most important reason why is that even if “we leave them alone”, they won’t “leave us alone”, contrary to what isolationists claim. Even if we hide behind the oceans, the crocodile will eventually come to eat us. And it is ridiculous to pretend that if America’s key allies like South Korea and Japan were attacked, there would be no adverse consequences for the US itself. (These two countries are, for starters, two of America’s biggest economic partners.)

Norquist has also nicely revealed his utter ignorance of defense affairs by saying:

“You will get serious conversation from the advocates of Pentagon spending when they understand ‘here’s the dollar amount, now make decisions.”

Firstly, it is not “Pentagon spending”, it is DEFENSE SPENDING, and it pays for the defense of the country, the #1 Constitutional duty of the federal government. Secondly, the defense budget is ALWAYS for a fixed dollar amount, never for an unlimited one. Thirdly, no, defense planning and decisions should never be dictated or driven by dollar amount limits or other budgetary constraints. It should always be driven solely by America’s defense needs and the most efficient ways of meeting them.

Norquist also lied when he claimed that those of us who support tax reform, including tax loophole elimination, want to “steal” someone’s tax credits and deductions. It’s a blatant lie, uttered, of course, by a lifelong lobbyist whose very job is, and whose very living depends, on keeping all of these tax loopholes in the tax code. What we’re arguing for is the elimination of market-distorting tax code loopholes which distort the free market and the capitalist economic process and reward Congress’s friends while punishing its “enemies”. In other words, we’re arguing for a free market. Norquist, as a fake conservative, of course, wants the federal government to pick winners and losers through the market-distorting tax code and thus to manage the economy. So much for Norquist being a “fiscal conservative.”

Elimination of these market-distorting tax loopholes isn’t a tax hike in any honest sense of the word. It is an elimination of tax loopholes, plain and simple. But of course, Norquist’s job is to protect them.

And how ironic it is that the president of a group calling itself “Americans for Tax Reform” is actually leading the fight AGAINST any real tax reform!

Moreover, as anyone even mildly knowledgeable about America’s budgetary affairs knows, the federal budget deficit is so huge that elimination of tax loopholes HAS TO BE a part of the solution. But of course, Grover Norquist has utterly refused to accept that basic fact. Maybe he’s also refusing to accept the fact that the Earth isn’t flat. 🙂

Norquist also lied when he claimed that “The Pentagon wastes money on bloated weapons systems, bases, and programs that are protected by politicians for parochial reasons.”

No, the DOD is not wasting money on those things. CONGRESS is doing that. The DOD has requested authorization for not one, but TWO new BRAC rounds, yet the CONGRESS is refusing to authorize them. Congress also routinely inserts projects not requested by the DOD into the annual defense budget, despite the warnings of the Joint Chiefs and successive Secretaries of Defense against this behavior, with General Dempsey urging members of Congress to think twice “before you give us things that we don’t need, or refuse to authorize reforms that we do need.”

The DOD cannot unilaterally close bases or reform the military’s healthcare and retirement programs. It needs Congressional authorization, which it has repeatedly requested and been denied.

Norquist also lied when he falsely claimed that

“Bush decided to be the mayor of Baghdad rather than the president of the United States. He decided to occupy Iraq and Afghanistan rather than reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. That had tremendous consequences. Rather than doing Doha [the trade round], we did Kabul.”

Firstly, the US has never “occupied” Iraq or Afghanistan, it has LIBERATED those two countries. Accusing the US of “occupying them” is not only a slanderous lie, it amounts to spreading the enemy’s propaganda and thus to treason. Secondly, the US had no choice but to invade Afghanistan after 9/11, because after that, the US had only two choices: to punish the parties responsible for 9/11, or to show the world that attacks on America could go unpunished.

Thirdly, President Bush repeatedly called for serious reforms to Fannie and Freddie. It was the DEMOCRATS in Congress who refused to authorize any such reforms. Bush also dispatched his Trade Representatives to try to conclude the Doha Round successfully, and they repeatedly tried, but the European Union and developing countries repeatedly refused to agree to any equitable deal. Norquist’s lies, as we see, are not limited to defense issues. President Bush is well within his rights to sue Norquist for this libel.

Lastly, Norquist later says that he “doesn’t believe that defense spending should be pegged to the size of the U.S. economy or any other arbitrary number. He argued that the Republican Party needs to reexamine the actual defense needs and then work from there to determine how much to spend.”

But it was Norquist who said just minutes earlier that defense spending SHOULD be limited to an arbitrary number. He said: “You will get serious conversation from the advocates of Pentagon spending when they understand ‘here’s the dollar amount, now make decisions.” Those are Norquist’s words, not mine.

And while defense spending indeed shouldn’t be tied to any arbitrary number, the fact is that America’s defense needs cannot be met with a budget significantly smaller than the current one. That is a fact. Maintaining the strongest military in the world – with the best troops, the best equipment, best training, best installations, and best personnel programs – costs a lot, and it cannot be done on the cheap. There’s no way to get around that fact.

The Joint Chiefs and the DOD’s civilian leaders have already conducted a holistic review of America’s defense needs, and while they have found savings to the tune of 487 bn over a decade, they have found that further cuts cannot be made safely. And they, the actual generals, are more credible than armchair general Norquist.

The Hadley-Perry Panel and the Heritage Foundation have conducted their own holistic bottom-up reviews and have come to similar conclusions.

Furthermore, while Norquist says that the Soviet Union has disappeared, that doesn’t mean that the world is much safer now or that America can deeply cut its defense budget now. (Oh, wait, the US has already tried that in the 1990s! How well did that work? 😉 )

Norquist’s claims about defense spending are all blatant lies and attacks on straw man arguments. And as his fight against market-distorting tax loophole closure shows, he’s no fiscal conservative, and no conservative of any stripe at all. It is time for GOP politicians to stop being cowed by this charlatan Islamist-loving lobbyist, stand up to him, and say “no” to him.


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