This morning, conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) has an op-ed in the Washington Examiner titled “What Republicans Can Accomplish In The 112th Congress.” In the op-ed, Coburn lays out a legislative agenda that he thinks Republicans should pursue in the new Congress. Many of these are boilerplate conservative ideas, like refusing to raise the debt ceiling and relying entirely on spending cuts instead.
Yet at one point, Coburn breaks with many of his Republican colleagues — and his party’s own much-touted “Pledge For America” — by calling for cuts to the defense budget. He writes that “Republicans also should resist pressure to take all defense spending cuts off the table.” He advocates for taking “common sense steps like freezing defense spending until the Pentagon can pass an audit and remove all nondefense spending from the Pentagon’s budget.” Coburn concludes that “taking defense spending off the table is indefensible. We need to protect our nation, not the Pentagon’s sacred cows“:
Republicans also should resist pressure to take all defense spending cuts off the table. Newly elected Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky had the courage to say he’d go after defense waste during his campaign, and I look forward to working with him.
We should start by taking common sense steps like freezing defense spending until the Pentagon can pass an audit and remove all nondefense spending from the Pentagon’s budget. Our nation’s military leaders understand the need to cut spending.
As Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said, “Our national debt is our biggest national security threat.” History shows that every nation eventually adopts the foreign policy it can afford. Taking defense spending off the table is indefensible. We need to protect our nation, not the Pentagon’s sacred cows.
As Coburn notes with his praise for Senator-elect Rand Paul (R-KY), he isn’t the only Senate Republican calling for reining in the military budget. Paul told PBS’s Gwen Ifil last month that that cutting defense spending “has to be on the table.” The same month, Pennsylvania candidate Pat Toomey criticized Congress for voting for “programs the Pentagon doesn’t even want.” The week before, Illinois Senator-elect Mark Kirk said we need “across-the-board” reductions in defense spending. Earlier that same month, Johnny Isakson (R-GA) told a local news station that reducing the deficit “begins with the Department of Defense.” And two weeks ago, Bob Corker (R-TN) said on CNBC that defense cuts have to be “on the table” because there’s “a lot of waste there.”
If these Republicans are really serious about reining in the defense budget, they can look to The Sustainable Defense Task (SDTF) report released earlier this year. The SDTF — which comprises Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) and some of the nation’s leading defense and budget experts — identified nearly $1 trillion in waste that can be cut from the defense budget over the next ten years simply by eliminating outdated Cold War-era programs. They could also reference a recent report by CAP experts Lawrence Korb and Laura Conley that lays out $108 billion in defense cuts in the current 2015 budget forecast.
tiredoftheBS writes, “Let’s do it!”