Defending The Military Industrial Complex, GOP Rep. McKeon Acknowledges Defense Cuts Are Popular

Since President Obama announced that he will call for $400 billion in defense and security spending over the next 12 years as part of his over all plan to reduce the debt and deficit, right-wing war hawks got to work attacking the idea. The Weekly Standard immediately pounced on the President, saying — without any evidence whatsoever — that his idea “guts” DOD.

House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA) is leading the attack on defense cuts in Congress. Yesterday on C-Span, McKeon continued the offensive, “Where’d it come from?” he asked, adding “Maybe we should ask the military what their roles are and missions” (the President is in fact asking the military to review their roles and missions). McKeon then said that he hopes Obama’s idea for defense cuts is merely political, thus acknowledging that Americans actually want them as well:

MCKEON: I’m hoping that that’s just what was an opening shot in a presidential campaign. I wasn’t able to see the whole speech but I’ve read about it and I’ve read reviews and to pick a $400 billion number out of the hat to say that we’re going to cut over the next –- I mean –-

A reporter then asked McKeon “why it is so outrageous” to cut $400 billion in DOD spending over the next 12 years. But McKeon couldn’t come up with an answer and simply rattled off the military’s capacity and size today versus what it was in 1990 without really explaining what that had to do with cutting $400 billion over 12 years. Watch it:

McKeon may be right about one thing, calls for defense spending cuts could serve politically advantageous seeing that numerous polls show that Americans support it. A Reuters/Ipsos poll out last month found that “a majority of Americans prefer cutting defense spending to reduce the federal deficit rather than taking money from public retirement and health programs.” A January CBS poll found that 52 percent are willing to reduce defense spending and a February NBC/WSJ poll found that cuts in defense spending received the highest “most acceptable” rating when compared to cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. And finally, a recent Pew poll found that 49 versus 47 percent favor cuts at the Pentagon to reduce the deficit.

Even though McKeon attacked Obama for wanting to cut defense spending, he’s trying to have it both ways, perhaps in an attempt to placate the Tea Party. “It’s ludicrous to think that out of a $550 billion budget that you can’t find some savings,” he also said on C-Span yesterday, adding, “We’ve got some serious problems, and defense has to be a part of it.”