With the White House's Deficit Commission hard at work being a bunch of budget-fussing fussbudgets, one wonders if their "everything on the table" approach is going to involve a substantive run at the waste in the Department of Defense, or if it's simply going to be a swift round of gutting Social Security benefits.
The defense budget has been, historically, the greatest sacred cow since the Golden Calf, but the whole point of the deficit commission is to keep lawmakers from having to publicly appear to be making the sort of tough choices that could cost them their precious Congressional seats. Nevertheless, some lawmakers are starting to loudly call for an examination of defense priorities and targeted cuts to a defense budget that's bloated to $549 billion in the past ten years.
Per Pat Garofalo, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) is on it:
Any conversation about the deficit that leaves out defense spending is seriously flawed before it begins...The savings in front of us deserve a careful look and a thorough debate; but I fear that if we can't decide what we can afford to do without today, we'll be forced to make much more draconian cuts in the years to come. Of course, we must conduct such a review with the intent of maintaining a strong and sufficient armed force to deter and defeat any enemy that puts our nation and our people at risk. We can do both.
But surely these are just the ravings of an unserious Democrat, right? Actually, someone better run and get David Broder a fresh pair of boxer-briefs because this call for defense budget cutting is covered with bipartisanship sauce! As Tim Fernholz points out at TAPPED, GOP wonderboy Representative Paul Ryan is singing the same tune. He offered the following commentary on the radio yesterday:
HOST: What about on the military side of things as well, do we not have to cut back on military spending as well?
RYAN: Yeah, I think within it you have to prioritize. Now obviously, we've got troops over in Afghanistan and they need everything, every piece of equipment they need. But there are lots of areas, I just had a hearing on this, there are lots of areas for waste to get out of it. Like, the procurement budget is completely out of control. The Pentagon's budget itself is not working right, so there are billions of dollars of waste you can get out of the Pentagon, lots of procurement waste. We're buying some weapons systems I would argue you don't need anymore.
Ryan added, "You know the current Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, he's going a pretty good job of identifying obsolete weapons systems that are costing tens of billions of dollars that aren't needed. So, yes, there is waste in the Pentagon." Bully for Ryan, he's right on both counts.