During a campaign appearance at BAE Systems this morning — a mega defense contractor — Mitt Romney accused President Obama of trapping the super committee into failure in order to reduce defense spending by $600 billion. The former Massachusetts governor criticized Obama for not personally involving himself in the committee’s negotiations and called on the president to introduce legislation that would undo the triggered cuts to military spending and instead target health care funding for the poor:
ROMNEY: In a setting like this, the idea that we’re going to devastate our military is simply unacceptable. I would call on the president and do call on the president to immediately introduce legislation which says we will not have a $600 billion cut to America’s military. We should not cut any funding from our base defense budget, that should not occur. And I would apply the $600 billion that were anticipated on being imposed upon the military, I would take those and apply them into other parts of the federal budget. And there are a number of candidates for that, one of course would be to take something like Medicaid, which is our health care program to the poor and return that program to the states…by doing that you more than compensate for the $600 billion that would be restored to the defense budget.
But Romney has it backwards: cuts to the military would likely have almost zero impact on national security — as they would target the many wasteful, costly weapons programs, many of which are barely even used. Defense contractors like BAE sometimes overcharge and bilk taxpayers, billing the government far more than the “fair and reasonable” price for parts and services. In 2010, BAE Systems pleaded “guilty to one charge of conspiring to make false statements to the U.S. government over regulatory filings.”
Reductions to Medicaid, on the other hand, would significantly increase costs for beneficiaries and the nation and undermine care for lower-income Americans who need it most. As the Congressional Budget Office concluded, if Romney implemented his proposal to “return” Medicaid “to the states” and significantly reduced federal funding, governors would have to cope with the shortfall by “cutting payment rates for doctors, hospitals or nursing homes; reducing the scope of benefits covered; or limiting eligibility,” the budget office concluded. As a result, enrollees could “face more limited access to care,” higher out-of-pocket costs, and “providers could face more uncompensated care as beneficiaries lost coverage for certain benefits or lost coverage altogether.”
Americans overwhelmingly oppose additional cuts to the Medicaid program — which states are already curtailing during a period of heightened eligibility — but 51 percent of voters support reducing the bloated military budget.