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Mar 30 2012

The Generals Strike Back

(5 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

It would seem the Republican Rep. Paul Ryan (WI) thinks that that he knows more about what the Defense Department needs to spend than the Generals that run the Pentagon:

   House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) expressed skepticism Thursday that U.S. military leaders were being honest in their budget requests to Congress.

   “We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice,” Ryan said during a forum on the budget sponsored by the National Journal. “We don’t think the generals believe their budget is really the right budget….

   He went on to say that while there were certainly inefficiencies that could be reduced in the Pentagon’s budget, fighting wars in the Middle East and a “dangerous world” necessitated keeping defense spending level.

   The comments were in response to a question from National Journal managing editor Kristin Roberts, who asked Ryan why the committee chose “to go against the advice of the generals” in rolling back $487 billion in proposed cuts to the Pentagon’s budget over the next decade.

Ed Kilgore at The Washington Monthly must have been smiling when he noted that the interview got even better:

   After Ryan’s initial remarks, Roberts noted that the budget was something that came from the Defense Department itself, not the Obama administration.

   “You don’t believe the generals?” Roberts asked.

   “What I believe is this budget does hollow out defense,” Ryan responded. “I believe this budget goes beyond where we should go to keep people safe.”

So this “genius” budgeter, whose party is always happy to defer to the generals when the generals say what they want to hear, is putting a couple of stars on his shoulder and dictating what the Pentagon needs to “keep people safe.” That’s particularly amazing since General Ryan is under fire from every direction for failing to offer a credible plan to reach his own arbitrary deficit reduction targets.

The Generals apparently did not take too kindly to Ryan calling them liars. This was Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey response:

“There’s a difference between having someone say they don’t believe what you said versus … calling us, collectively, liars,” he said, according to the Wall Street Journal. “My response is: I stand by my testimony. This was very much a strategy-driven process to which we mapped the budget.”

Dempsey added that the budget “was a collaborative effort” among top military officers and combat leaders.

The military faces $487 billion in cuts in the next decade as part of a budget deal reached last summer. The cuts reflect ongoing drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The rest, unfortunately, is behind the Wall Street Journal‘s firewall.

David Dayen had a good summery of the “spat” and just how much of a “hawk” Ryan is:

Now, keep in mind that the Obama Administration’s “cuts” to the military budget aren’t cuts. They just slow growth over time. And the Pentagon doesn’t even contemplate the mandated trigger cuts that are coming at the end of the year, which fall in large part on the defense budget. [..]

The proof that the military budgeting represented a collaborative effort, of course, is that it doesn’t cut the military budget all that much.

But it’s worth re-emphasizing that Paul Ryan called the entire military brass a bunch of liars who gave false testimony to Congress. And he will not listen to their calls for even modest trims to their funding. This makes him the very serious budget hawk in Washington.

Man the torpedoes! Full speed ahead! And damn the consequences.

 

1 comment

  1. TMC

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