Government Spending

Will Republicans Cut Military Spending?

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A different kind of money bomb.

A report in this morning's Wall Street Journal starts by saying that "Congress is likely to see an influx of conservatives with a broad mandate to slash federal spending after next month's elections, but whether major cuts to military spending will be on the table remains unresolved." We can probably resolve the matter right now just by saying that it won't happen. As much as I'd like to see the GOP—or Democrats, for that matter—push to trim both the defense budget and America's global military ambitions, there's very little sign that most Republicans are actually prepared to consider cuts of any significance. Indeed, most prominent conservative groups, as well as many prominent conservative politicians, are pushing to keep defense spending untouchable.

Just look at the Journal's report. The article suggests that some Republicans may jump on board with a cost-cutting "efficiency drive" by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. But amongst GOP legislators, policy shops, and political bigshots, the issue looks rather one-sided.

Against defense spending cuts, the article points to a platoon of conservative heavyweights: AEI, the Heritage Foundation, the Foreign Policy Initiative, Sarah Palin, Marco Rubio, and the folks behind the GOP's recent Pledge to America. For defense spending cuts, the article has…Rand Paul. And yes, it also has his father, Ron Paul, who recently cosigned a letter with Democrats Barney Frank and Ron Wyden urging the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility to consider military cuts as a way to bring down the national debt. But outside of the Pauls, the article names no Republican legislators who seem interested in paring back America's excessive military spending. Instead, it says that "several GOP candidates have said military-spending reductions should be considered," though it doesn't say which ones, or how many, or if they're likely to win or hold positions of influence. And it claims that "some observers are speculating whether fiscal conservatives…will make common cause with liberal lawmakers who back reductions in military outlays." This observer would be happy if those observers turned out to be right. But it doesn't seem very likely.

Read Veronique de Rugy on America's trillion-dollar war on terror