GOP Debate : McKeon, Coburn, Paul and Bachmann on Defense Spending and Tax Increases

For a decade, Americans have quietly gone about their lives in relative peace, immune to the sacrifices common of a wartime society. There has been no rationing, no war bonds and no evening blackouts.”
“This is just me — and this is probably a good way to lose an election, but that’s not the reason why I’m here — but if it came that I had only two choices, one was a tax increase and one was to cut defense over and above where we already are, I would vote to strengthen defense.”

— House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA-25)

Finally, someone admits the obvious … America’s National Debt has increased because Congress has refused to ask Americans to pay for the ongoing Global War on Terror …. Yet the mission “Global War on Terror” has produced an unbridled expansion of military spending … consider Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) whowrote : “total Pentagon spending is higher today – in inflation-adjusted (“constant”) dollars than at any time during the last 60 years. This includes the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the Defense Department spending during President Reagan’s administration.
Not counting the spending for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the “base” Pentagon budget has increased from $407 billion in 2001 to $553 billion for 2011 in inflation-adjusted dollars, according to the newest US defense budget data. Over the past decade, this means a cumulative total increase of almost $1 Trillion for the base DOD budget
.”

Defense Spending

Later on the same day that Mr. McKeon acknowledged that tax increase may be necessary, Ron Paul (R-TX-) offered an important distinction during the CNN/Tea Party Express debate :

Moderator Wolf Blitzer :Let’s take a question from Twitter. Do you plan to decrease defense spending to balance spending? Or do you believe high spending is essential to security?

REP. RON PAUL, (R-TX.), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:

First thing I would like to do is make sure that you understand there’s a difference between military spending and defense spending. I’m tired of all the militarism that we are involved in. And we’re wasting this money in getting us involved. And I agree, we are still in danger, but most of the danger comes by our lack of wisdom on how we run our foreign policy.
So I would say there’s a lot of room to cut on the military, but not on the defense. You can slash the military spending. We don’t need to be building airplanes that were used in World War II — we’re always fighting the last war.
But we’re under great threat, because we occupy so many countries.
We’re in 130 countries. We have 900 bases around the world. We’re going broke.
The purpose of al Qaeda was to attack us, invite us over there, where they can target us. And they have been doing it. They have more attacks against us and the American interests per month than occurred in all the years before 9/11, but we’re there occupying their land. And if we think that we can do that and not have retaliation, we’re kidding ourselves.
We have to be honest with ourselves. What would we do if another country, say, China , did to us what we do to all those countries over there?
(APPLAUSE)
PAUL: So I would say a policy — a foreign policy that takes care of our national defense, that we’re willing to get along with people and trade with people, as the founders advised, there’s no authority in the Constitution to be the policeman of the world, and no nation-building.

The TaxEnoughAlready movement pushed the concept that the national debt has to be decreased …and that has forced an internal debate within the Republican Party to address the difference between “military spending” and “defense spending” … and as a result the bipartisan, 12-member congressional “Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction” is evaluating ways to cut up to $1.5 trillion from the nation’s debt which might include “military spending.”

Michele Bachmann (R-MN-06), another Republican presidential candidate, called the committee created by the debt ceiling deal “one of the worst ideas in history.”

Ah … yes, in Ms. Bachmann’s world, ignorance is bliss … no reason to acknowledge the impact of all those DoD “earmarks” (Senator Coburn noted that “Congress added at least $60 billion in pork to post-September, 2001 defense bills.”) until someone forces Congress to pay for them.

It’s an important debate … and it’s good that Republicans are finally starting to engage … Dr. Paul is correct … the “danger” comes from taxpayers not realizing how the military industrial complex has benefited from Congressional spending … but will they all agree with Mr. McKeon that it’s worth increasing taxes ?

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