Rebuttal of Rand Paul’s lies

On November 18th, responding to Jonathan Tobin’s factually correct piece of November 9th, Rand Paul wrote a litany of blatant lies and straw man arguments to defend his sorry record and his liberal views on defense issues, as well as his sordid record on Israel.

He falsely claims that:

“Mr. Tobin speculates that calls by me and others within the Republican Party for Pentagon cuts somehow would hurt our national defense. It is always sad to see conservatives making liberal arguments. Cutting waste in our military would no more hurt our defense than getting rid of No Child Left Behind would hurt education.”

The deep defense budget cuts that Rand Paul and a few other Republicans support – including sequestration – WOULD hurt the US military, and deeply so. This is not a “liberal argument”, this is a FACT. That’s because they would be deep and would leave the military with a lot less money for training, operations, personnel, the maintenance of existing equipment and facilities, and the development and acquisition of new equipment. A strong military depends on all of these, and none of these will be adequate if FUNDING for defense is not adequate. Under Rand Paul’s plans, including sequestration, it would not be.

The sequester requires $600 bn cuts in the defense budget over the next decade – $60 bn EVERY YEAR from FY2013 through FY2022. These cuts would come on top of ALL defense cuts implemented or scheduled so far, including the $487 bn in defense cuts mandated by the first tier of the BCA. Cuts on this scale cannot be made solely through waste elimination; they will inevitably involve weakening the military and many tough choices. Due to their scale, these cuts will require deep reductions in funding for personnel, operations, maintenance, training, or the development and acquisition of new equipment (or some combination of the above). Any of which would deeply hurt the US military and undermine its ability to defend America and its allies – including Israel.

Paul loves to cry about DOD “waste”, but when Sen. Coburn released his “Department of Everything” report last week, he found only a grand total of $6.79 bn in annual waste in the defense budget, a rounding error in that budget and a drop in the bucket compared to the cuts the sequester would require ($60 bn per year). If anything, that report only proved that cuts on the sequester’s scale cannot be made solely, or even mostly, through waste elimination, and would require deep cuts in the meat and bone of the military.

Note to defense cutters: crucial weapon programs such as the Next Generation Bomber or the Ground-Based Interceptor program are not “waste”.

“Every government agency can withstand a little belt-tightening, especially if we scale back on our overseas presence and focus more on true defense and security.”

But what Rand Paul proposes – deep defense budget cuts, including sequestration – is not mere “belt-tightening”, it’s deep, reckless defense cuts. Sequestration, as stated above, requires additional $600 bn in cuts over a decade on top of the $487 bn in cuts already programmed by Sec. Panetta as a result of the BCA.

And the DOD has already done a lot of “belt-tightening” since 2009, while other federal agencies haven’t done so at all so far. In 2009 and 2010, the DOD closed over 50 crucial weapon programs, including the F-22 and several missile defense programs. In December 2010, the US ratified the New START treaty, which mandates deep cuts in America’s (but not Russia’s) nuclear arsenal and undermines nuclear deterrence. In January 2011, Sec. Gates announced another $178 bn in efficiencies and cuts. And the first tier of the BCA mandates pre-sequester defense budget cuts of $487 bn over the next decade, cuts that must happen even if sequestration does not. And even if the sequester is cancelled, it’s highly unlikely that defense cuts will stop with that $487 bn.

Yet Rand Paul denies that any of these are real cuts, or that the DOD has undergone any belt-tightening. He even denies that sequestration would be a real cut in defense spending, even though it would take the defense budget from $535 bn today to $469 bn in January, virtually overnight, and keep defense spending below $500 bn (and way below today’s level) for the remainder of the sequestration decade.

Senator, if a deep, immediate, real-term cut in defense spending is not a real spending cut to you, if a cut from $535 bn to $469 bn is not a real spending cut to you, then we learned completely different maths at school.

“Scaling back on our overseas presence” would not save a penny. It’s merely a repackaged isolationist policy of his father’s. Bringing the troops home and building new bases and houses for them here in the US would cost MORE than keeping them where they are, and it would undermine America’s ability to provide “true defense and security”, because troops deployed in-theater can, by virtue of being there, respond IMMEDIATELY to any aggression, and by their very presence, deter it, while troops based in the US would need weeks to arrive on scene – by which time it would be too late as our allies would already be conquered by their aggressive enemies (China, North Korea, etc.).

“The problem is, if we don’t keep these cuts, where will they come from? My colleagues have shown no greater stomach for domestic cuts than military ones.”

That’s also a lie. The vast majority of Paul’s colleagues in both houses of Congress voted for the Ryan Plan. Many House Republicans also voted for the RSC’s budget, which makes much deeper cuts in domestic spending AND would balance the federal budget in 5 years. In the Senate, 42 Republicans voted for the Toomey Plan, which would balance the budget in 8 years and make real, deep cuts in all spending. And Sen. McCain – formerly an ueberhawk – now supports early withdrawal from Afghanistan, which would provide additional savings.

“That’s because the cuts really aren’t that big of a problem, if we also include reform.”

FALSE. No amount of reform will ever provide for sufficient savings to pay for the sequester ($600 bn per decade, $60 bn per year). There is some waste in the defense budget, but not THAT MUCH – not even close, as Sen. Coburn’s own Department of Everything report of last week shows. With cuts that deep, your only choice is to deeply cut the force structure, maintenance, operations, training, or the development and acquisition of new equipment. As defense analysts from the CSBA to the CNAS have stated, cuts on the sequester’s magnitude cannot be made through “efficiencies” and “reform” alone, and will require many tough choices. I know, because I’m the author of the largest package of DOD reform proposals ever written, so I know the limits of what reform can accomplish.

Sen. Paul is doing the military and the entire country a huge DISSERVICE by propagating that deep defense cuts, such as sequestration, can be done purely through “reform” and waste elimination.

“Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma) and I are now both calling for legislation to audit the Pentagon, believing that a federal department with zero oversight is a good place to start when targeting government waste.”

This is a blatant lie. While the DOD has not yet managed to pass an audit, it is well on its way to achieving that goal by 2017, and the claim that the DOD is a department with “zero oversight” is a blatant lie. The DOD is overseen, and must annually testify and frequently report to, six separate Congressional Committees; must prepare hundreds of reports to the Congress every year; must provide thousands of pages of justifications every year; and is now under obligation to cut over a trillion dollars ($487 bn + $600 bn) from its budget over the next decade.

“it is absurd to suggest that conservatives who ask these questions are somehow for a weaker defense”

If I had a nickel for everytime I heard that!

But what Rand Paul (like his father) and other defense cutters are advocating IS a weaker defense, despite their pretensions to the contrary. That’s because the defense cuts they advocate – including sequestration – would, as demonstrated above, gut America’s defense (especially sequestration, which would simply cut the defense budget blindly, across the board (except personnel), in every program, without any difference as to what that mechanism would be cutting). Thus, they DO advocate a weaker defense.

They’re indistiguishable from Barney Frank and other Democrats who advocate deep defense cuts. They, too, claim that they support a strong defense, yet, like Rand Paul and his father, they advocate deep defense budget, force structure, and programmatic cuts which would gut the military. Thus, they do advocate a weak military – but like Rand Paul, they’re too dishonest to admit that openly.

As for Israel, one of America’s greatest allies, Rand Paul, by cutting off aid to Israel (which today consists almost exclusively of military aid and pays for Israel’s defense, including the missile defense systems that protect Israel), would greatly undermine Israel’s defense if he were to be granted his wish.

Just look at the Iron Dome batteries that protect Israel from the missiles constantly launched at it from Gaza and Lebanon. They’ve managed to keep Israeli casualties to a minimum. They were co-developed with the US and were largely financed by the DOD and the DOS. Cutting off aid to Israel would mean cutting off funding for these systems. No person who advocates that can call himself a true friend of Israel.

Simoultaneously cutting off aid to Arab countries does not compensate for this in any way.

Rand Paul is a shameless, blatant liar. But intelligent people won’t be fooled by his deception and will see him for whom he really is – a defense gutter and a shameless liar.

Rand Paul and Israel: An Exchange


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