McCain: Military Spending Cuts Would ‘Literally’ Lead To An ‘Inability To Defend The Nation’

Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have been at the forefront in trying to scare the public into thinking the automatic military spending cuts set to take effect in January will decimate the military (they won’t).

But the two Republican senators took their hysteria to a whole new level in an interview published today on the Newsmax website. In the 12 minute-long segment full of hyperbole and alarmist distortions, McCain said the defense sequester would “literally” — literally — prevent the United States from defending itself.

But that wouldn’t necessarily mean the U.S. would really lose all its weapons, ammo, fighter jets, helicopters, missile defense, nuclear weapons, etc. — would it? Yep. That is if you believe Lindsey Graham. Not only that, Graham says the sequester “would be the most destructive thing in the world(!)”:

MCCAIN: Those cuts in the words of the Secretary of Defense and all our uniformed leaders have said would jeopardize our national security. … Lindsey Graham and I and Kelly Ayotte and others are trying to warn the country of the devastating effects of this quote sequestration and, literally, our inability to defend the nation. …

GRAHAM: It would be, in the words of Leon Panetta, a brigade without bullets, a Navy without ships, an Air Force without trained pilots. It would be like shooting yourself in the head. It would be the most destructive thing in the world.

Watch the interview:

Now to be fair to Sens. McCain and Graham, it seems they may have learned a lot of this baseless hyperventilating from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. But neither he, nor they, have ever offered any specifics as to why the automatic military spending cuts would be so terrible.

There’s no doubt that sequestration — which is an across the board $500 billion cut to military spending over the next decade — is the wrong way to reduce the Pentagon’s bloated budget.

But the reality is that if the sequester were to take effect, the U.S. would be spending more on the military in 2013 than it did in 2006. Graham and McCain probably weren’t concerned about whether the United States could defend itself back then.

CAP’s Lawrence Korb yesterday debunked much of the frenzy surrounding the defense sequester, including the spurious warnings about job losses. Korb notes that those seeking alternatives to the “meat ax approach” of sequestration can take a look at a plan “laid out by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, would achieve the same level of required savings under the Budget Control Act, but implement the cuts more gradually.”

But ultimately, Korb notes, after sequestration, “the United States will still account for 40% of the world’s military expenditures — 70% if you combine that with what our allies spend.” That’s probably more than enough to defend a nation with.