Wednesday, September 14, 2011

HASC Chairman Defends Defense

In light of the looming budget cuts to the Department of Defense (DoD), Republican legislators are speaking up to advocate against further, likely disastrous cuts to DoD. This past Monday, ROA attended an event at the American Enterprise Institute that featured Congressman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.

Along with echoing the messages Republican legislators have been spreading for weeks, Congressman McKeon focused on the under-funded and under-equipped status of our military as it stands today. The Congressman was pointed in underscoring not only the devastating impact these cuts represent for the success of current operations, but on the United States’ standing as a global power.

Mr. McKeon referenced a laundry list of issues already facing our armed forces—troops being required to serve six or seven deployments, weapons and equipment programs being cut dramatically and an unstable atmosphere in the Middle East. McKeon noted that DoD has been forced to operate amidst the austerity demanded by having become, what he called the Obama administration’s “favorite target” for budget cuts in an already woeful economy.

He argued, “[Cutting defense] is not how you win the war…and it’s absolutely not the way to pay off the debt.”

Congressman McKeon fervently warned against cuts to defense at a time when the United States is engaged in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. McKeon took special exception to the scale of these defense cuts during a time when the domestic discretionary spending budget has actually grown. He asserted that recent cuts, even without considering current proposals, have already hampered DoD operational capacity. Cuts already made to DoD, he argues, aren’t just keeping the U.S. from updating its military, “they’re preventing us from keeping our current fleet afloat.”

Even more worrisome to the Congressman is that the triggers contained in the Budget Control Act, which would result from the super committee’s failure to produce and/or pass a budget reduction plan by the end of the year, would cut 50% of the $1.2 trillion in budget reduction required from the Department of Defense, even though the DoD budget only accounts for about 20% of federal spending. He believes this is a pre-election year effort by the administration and Congressional Democrats to force Republicans to choose between raising taxes or gutting defense.

The Congressional supercommittee has already begun preliminary meetings and is expected to begin debate over a budget reduction plan over the next few weeks. During that time, the Reserve Officers Association will remain diligent in its defense of the military. ROA is committed to preserving the strength of our armed forces as a means to ensure our national security. To that end, ROA will continue to advocate against efforts to downgrade DoD operability as a means to deficit reduction.

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