GOP Not Cutting Defense Spending ... but It Should Be

Over the weekend, House Republicans began a coordinated campaign to defend the caucus' "$100 billion" worth of proposed cuts to the fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget. Since the proposal's release, Republicans have been taking flak for targeting non-security discretionary programs, which only make up about one-sixth of federal spending. When asked about this on the various Sunday talk shows, Republican leaders demurred, claiming defense spending is also on the chopping block. They're not telling the truth.

How about cutting that second engine, Boehner?

This morning, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), appearing on C-SPAN's Washington Journal to discuss various budget issues, repeated the claim, adding, "... there are $16 billion in defense cuts" in the continuing resolution [CR] put forward by Republicans.

The implicit argument Republicans are making, of course, is that they're not the cold-hearted bastards Democratic lawmakers have convincingly been making them out to be because the former's cuts indiscriminately slash funds for needed public protections and future investments. "Hey," they're arguing, "we're not just cutting those programs, we're cutting defense spending too."

The problem is that they're not. Republicans would like to pretend that their proposed cuts are coming from what President Obama asked for last February in his FY 2011 budget proposal. However, Congress never enacted that budget and the government has been operating on CRs since the beginning of the fiscal year.

So, about those $16 billion worth of defense cuts: they're imaginary; they're not real. In fact, Republicans are increasing defense spending by $8.1 billion, a 1.6 percent bump over the Pentagon's enacted FY 2010 budget. Not that a small increase in defense spending is necessarily bad; but if you're doing so, acknowledge it, and don't claim otherwise.

Worst of all, Republicans are continuing some of the most wasteful aspects of Pentagon spending. Take for instance the second engine for the F-35 fighter jet. The Pentagon has been trying to kill the program for several years. Even the Government Accountability Office (GAO) questions whether the second engine will recoup the extra costs necessary to sustain the program through increased efficiencies.

One would think that an needless, pork-barrel project would be a no-brainer for Republicans to cut. But, alas, no such luck. Maybe it has something to do with those General Electric and Rolls Royce manufacturing plants in and around House Speaker John Boehner's (R-OH) district. Nah couldn't be.

Image by Flickr user lscan used under a Creative Commons license.

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