Last night on Fox News, war hawk and potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate John Bolton said that America’s debt and deficit is a national security concern because it prevents the United States from adequately funding the Defense Department:
BOLTON: This dead weight of the debt inhibits economic growth. And you can’t have real national security, you can’t spend the kind of money you must spend on defense unless the economy can sustain it.
While some might argue (correctly) that the soaring debt and deficit is percisely why the U.S. should rein in its bloated defense spending, Bolton isn’t necessarily the first to make this point. Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen said last year that “the most significant threat to our national security is our debt…because the ability for our country to resource our military.” But later in the segment, Bolton took this line of thinking a bit further, saying that in order to deal with the debt, and thus increase military spending, the U.S. should cut back spending on Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid:
BOLTON: What I would do [to address the debt] would be to turn very sharply against the domestic spending levels that we have. … And I think we’ve got to have an adult conversation with the American people about not just Medicare and Medicaid, but Social Security, too. I reject the idea that many Democrats believe in that the American people are not smart enough to understand that we cannot continue to fund Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid the way we have.
To recap: America needs to get out of debt in order to spend more on defense, and in order to do that, America has to gut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Bolton’s plan is basically a reverse Robin Hood scheme: robbing the poor to pay the rich, or really, the Military Industrial Complex on steroids.
Thankfully, if Bolton does decide to run for president, it doesn’t seem like he’d get very far because his ideas aren’t particularly popular. A recent Reuters poll found that Americans would rather cut defense spending than raid social services in order to solve the debt and deficit problems. And a Washington Post/ABC News poll just out today had similar results. Only 21 and 30 percent favor cutting Medicare and Medicaid respectively to reduce the deficit, while 42 percent support cutting military spending.