Memo to Republican candidates: You cannot complain about proposed cuts in the Defense budget, as many of you did at last night's debate, and at the same time complain that the president or the Democrats in Congress are not doing enough to cut government spending. You have to be for cutting spending or against it. If you're for more spending cuts, then the biggest item of spending that is available for cutting happens to be the defense budget. By far. If you add up all the other items of discretionary spending in the federal budget, you are not going to find anywhere near the opportunities for cutting that you can find in the defense budget. Also please keep in mind that President Bush nearly doubled military spending, which means that there should be plenty of room to make cuts without doing harm to our preparedness. With the Iraq War ending and the Afghanistan War winding down, we ought to be able to reduce our military expenditures by quite a bit just by putting ourselves in a more "normal" state of readiness.
Also please remember that we made a gigantic military build-up during the Bush administration without asking taxpayers to fund that increase, and that this is a major
and ongoing cause of current budget deficits that Republicans like to
blame on President Obama. So it is only appropriate that he take some steps to reduce that spending, and it is unseemly for Republican candidates to complain when President Obama tries to rein in some of the spending increases approved during the Bush administration, while out of the other side of their mouths they have been claiming that Obama is responsible for all of the debt incurred since he has taken office. Maybe it's asking to much to expect that you would applaud these efforts to reduce spending, but you could at least try not to attack Obama for too much cutting, while you are at the same time attacking him for too much spending.
If we're going to have a rational debate about defense spending, let's talk about our real military needs, and how best to achieve them. Let's not just mindlessly scare people by assuming that every dime cut from the Defense budget is going to harm national security. Also, candidates, if you are against any defense spending cuts, but you still want to portray yourself as being in favor of reducing the size of the federal government, which all of the Republican candidates claim they are, then you must specify what it is you plan to cut instead of Defense that is going to achieve significant savings. It's only fair to let people know if you plan to cut food stamps, or Medicare, or unemployment insurance, or whatever programs you expect to cut.
I propose a new rule to make political debates more honest. Let's not talk about cutting federal spending anymore, at all, without specifying what it is you want to cut. No politician should be allowed to say that we need to reduce the federal budget by $100 billion or whatever number you want to use, without also specifying what programs we are going to cut and by how much. Especially if you are going to alarm people about threats to the nation's security represented by the president's and the Defense Department's proposal to trim a few hundred billion from the Pentagon's budget over the next ten years. If you don't like that, just admit you are not really serious about cutting spending, or tell people exactly what you would cut instead.