You Lie: GOP Rep. Wilson Informs GOP Rep. McKeon That Defense Cuts Will Not Require A Draft

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) yells 'You lie'

House Armed Service Committee Chairman Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) has served up a myriad of scarcely legitimate reasons for why Congress should not cut the bloated Defense budget: It’s “dangerous,” no one will save us “when we’re attacked,” or that entitlement programs are “the main drivers of our deficit.” But his latest claim has even raised the eyebrows of some Republicans.

On Fox News yesterday, McKeon bemoaned that the proposed cuts could endanger the strength of our military. “We also need to understand what it’s going to mean to keep an all-volunteer force. Do we want to reinstitute the draft,” he asked. “Some of the cuts we’re talking about would take 200,000 out of end strength of our military.” South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson (R) — notorious for shouting “you lie” at the president — called McKeon out on this actual fib:

Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., chairman of the Armed Services personnel subcommittee, on Wednesday expressed concerns about defense cuts but said a draft was unnecessary.

“I’m concerned that the cuts are so devastating to our national security that almost any negative consequence can arise, but I actually have supported and continue to support as a budget-cutting measure elimination of the Selective Service,” Wilson said in an interview.

The lawmaker, who attended the Marine Corps graduation at Parris Island last Friday, said service members are volunteering even in a time of two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We have the new greatest generation,” Wilson said. “We don’t need as large a military due to the technology we have, the equipment we have outfitting our personnel. They really are storm troopers.”

It is important to note that Wilson chose to compare the U.S. military force to Nazis or (more charitably) to the fictional foot soldiers of the evil imperial army in Star Wars.

However, he is correct that there’s virtually no possibility of a draft. The Army recently exceeded its recruitment goals without sacrificing standards. Wilson also correctly notes that recent technology makes certain military earmarks obsolete. For instance, the Pentagon itself requested that Congress kill funding for the F-35 fighter jet, stating that “every dollar additional to the budget that we have to put into the F-35 is a dollar taken from something else the troops may need.” Moreover, as Political Correction noted in a post on McKeon’s comments, even if the most drastic cuts are implemented, defense spending would go back to 2007 levels. Needless to say, the U.S. military did not need a draft then even while fighting two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. currently spends more on the military than the next 14 biggest spenders combined. To claim that the much-needed and very sustainable cuts could spur a draft reeks of political spin. The whole idea left Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) bemused: “The all-volunteer Army seems to be working pretty well. Reinstating the draft? I don’t know what that accomplishes.”