Rebuttal of Rand Paul’s blatant lies about defense spending
Last night, in his response to President Obama’s SOTU speech, Rand Paul, as usual, directed most of his arrows not at Obama and the Democrats, but at his own party and its conservative supporters, and while so doing, he recited his standard litany of blatant lies about defense issues.
He falsely claimed that defense spending is/has been a “sacred cow” that Republicans have protected for long; that it’s time for Republicans to “realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud”; he furthermore claimed that “Not only should the sequester stand”, but it should even be increased to 4 trillion dollars.
All of his claims are blatant lies or, in the case of waste and fraud, a straw man argument.
Firstly, defense is not, and has NEVER been, a sacred cow. Here, I will not even delve into the deep defense cuts that Republicans agreed to during the 1950s, 1970s, late 1980s, and 1990s; I’ll assume that Rand Paul meant only the time since 2001. Even then, he’s still dead wrong.
Since 2009 alone, Republicans have agreed to the following defense cuts:
- The massive defense cuts of 2009, which took the form of killing over 30 crucial weapon programs, including the F-22 (the ONLY Western fighter capable of defeating the newest Russian and Chinese aircraft), the Multiple Kill Vehicle for missile defense interceptors, the Kinetic Energy Interceptor for boost phase defense, the AC-X gunship, the CSARX rescue helo, etc. This was followed up in 2010 by further killings of crucial programs, such as the C-17 airlifter and the alternative engine for the F-35 (thus giving Pratt and Whitney an engine monopoly).
- The New START treaty, ratified in 2010, obligating only the US (not Russia) to cut its deployed nuclear arsenal by 1/3;
- The 178 bn Gates Efficiencies of 2011; and
- The 487 bn in further defense cuts mandated by the First Tier of the Budget Control Act, accepted by most Republicans in 2011.
All of this BEFORE sequestration.
To date, the DOD has already contributed 900 bn in deficit reduction since 2009. Any claim that the DOD has been a “sacred cow” are blatant lies.
Moreover, defense is not anyone’s “sacred cow”; it is the highest Constitutional DUTY of the federal government – indeed, the most important one according to George Washington. The majority of Congress’ enumerated powers are related to military matters, and the reason why the federal government was created in the first place was to provide for the common defense, as the preamble to the Constitution explains. It was created because the weak Congress of the Confederacy had no means to provide for the Union’s defense.
Rand Paul chastises his fellow Republicans for wanting to spare defense from sequestration, claiming that “it’s time for Republicans to realize that military spending is not immune to waste and fraud”. But no one in any party and no one in the United States is claiming that it is immune from waste and fraud. (Personally, I’m the author of the largest DOD reform proposals package ever compiled by anyone.)
But there isn’t enough waste and fraud in the defense budget to pay for a 550 bn per decade sequester. Not even close to enough. Thus, sequestration – or any cuts on a similar scale – would have to cut a lot of money out of genuine military capabilities – the meat and bone of the US military. In other words, gut the military.
All members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all other military leaders, all civilian leaders of the Defense Department, all non-leftist think tanks (Heritage, AEI, Center for a New American Security, Center for Security Policy, Bipartisan Policy Center) – basically everyone except the Left – have confirmed that sequestration will severely weaken the US military. The military services have already explained in detail how this would happen:
- The Navy would have to cancel the deployment of one aircraft carrier to the Gulf, cancel maintenance on at least 23 ships (including two aircraft carriers) and 250 aircraft this year alone, and cut the ship fleet by 50 vessels, including at least two carriers, down to no more than 8 (and probably fewer) flattops.
- The Air Force would have to delay all of its acquisition and development programs, stop demolishing unneeded buildings, cut flight training by 18%, cut the budget of its Global Strike command (responsible for ICBMs and bombers) by 20%and more broadly will have to curtail the service’s ability to conduct air-to-air refueling, support Army logistical requirements and, by September of this year, train new pilots—reductions that cumulatively will erode America’s vitally important airpower capabilities.
- The Army would have to stop training 78% of its brigades, cancel critical maintenance, and stop training new aviators and military intelligence specialists—delays that, according to the service’s leaders, will result in the “rapid atrophy of unit combat skills with a failure to meet demands of the National Military strategy by the end of the year.”
Recently, 46 former national security officials and defense experts spanning the partisan spectrum, from former Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) to former SECDEF Robert Gates (who presided over the first three rounds of defense cuts mentioned above) to Reagan nat-sec advisor Bud McFarlane have signed a letter underlining sequestration’s grave impact on the military and chastising the President and the Congress for not stopping it. Their letter concludes thus:
“Sequestration will result in unacceptable risk for U.S. national security. It will degrade our ability to defend our allies, deter aggression, and promote and protect American economic interests. It will erode the credibility of our treaty commitments abroad. It will be a self-inflicted wound to American strength and leadership in the world.
History will not look kindly on this abdication of responsibility, but will hold accountable the President and the Congress who together chose such a dangerous course.”
Even if you think there is still enough waste in defense to pay for sequestration (and if you think that, you’re wrong), that still doesn’t help Rand Paul: sequestration will actually AGGRAVATE the problem of waste in the defense budget by forcing the DOD into inefficiencies, such as:
- Cutting weapon purchase rates, thus preventing the realization of economies of scale and leading to cost overruns (because weapons are much cheaper when you buy more of them and faster);
- Delaying and underfunding the research, development, and testing phases of weapon programs, thus delaying their development and the moment that bugs are discovered and fixed in weapons;
- Delaying much-needed maintenance on ships, aircraft, and ground vehicles of all sorts, thus significantly increasing the bill for maintaining and repairing them when such maintenance and refurbishment can no longer be delayed and has to be done;
- Furloughing all DOD civilian employees whose job is to manage the DOD’s programs on a daily basis; and
- Underfunding training, meaning that you’ll have to train people later at a higher cost to regain lost skills.
- Moreover, sequestration will cut everything in the defense budget (except personnel costs) by a uniform percentage – the waste by the same percentage as the essentials. Thus, beef jerky studies will be cut by the same percentage as the Next Generation Bomber.
Also, sequestration does NOT authorize crucial, money-saving reforms for which the DOD has repatedly requested authorization: healthcare and retirement program reforms and base closure. Indeed, the Budget Control Act explicitly prohibits using the sequester to close unneeded bases. So the DOD will be gutted doubly: forced to cut its budget deeply and uniformly while not being allowed to carry out the reforms it does need and has requested authorization for.
In short, sequestration will only make the problem of waste in the defense budget WORSE, not better.
If Sen. Paul were TRULY concerned about waste and fraud in the defense budget, he would be doing everything he can to CANCEL sequestration and, at minimum, give the DOD full flexibility to administer these cuts. But he’s not doing that – because he’s a total fraud and doesn’t give a damn about “waste and fraud” in the defense budget. All he cares about is gutting the US military – a goal he shares with his loathsome, stridently liberal, and stridently anti-American father Ron Paul, who, like his son, is a total fraud (he recently sued his former supporters… at the United Nations).
And if Sen. Paul were a real defender of the Constitution and limited government, he would not have been introducing unconstitutional bills to mandate federal policies on employment and abortion – issues reserved to the states and the people.
But he doesn’t really care about limited government or waste and fraud in the defense budget – all he cares about is gutting America’s defense. That is probably why he has suggested that the sequester should not only be allowed to stand, but even increased to 4 trillion dollars, as if the current sequester of America’s defense was not bad enough.
There isn’t even nearly that much waste in the defense budget. Not even close. Any cuts on the scale of the current sequester – let alone the one that Paul proposes – would have to cut deeply into America’s defense capabilities – and that would only invite aggression that would have to be repelled at a much greater cost.
Shame on Rand Paul for stating such blatant lies, and shame on the Tea Party Express for giving him the platform to do so. No one should ever take them seriously again.
Rand Paul has proven once again that he’s the same anti-American, anti-defense, anti-conservative, pro-weak-defense, isolationist pseudoconservative fraud as his father. He must be denied the Republican presidential nomination – in 2016 and all successive presidential election cycles.