About those defense cuts…

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Since I posted the full video of President Obama’s speech the Veterans of Foreign Wars yesterday, it’s only fair that I also post Mitt Romney’s speech to the same convention.

We talked yesterday about some of the more important flaws in the Republican’s remarks, and Heather Hurlburt documented some pretty dramatic lies Romney told during the speech, but there was another excerpt I wanted to highlight.

Consider this excerpt, which struck me as important:

“A healthy American economy is what underwrites American power. When growth is missing, government revenue falls, social spending rises, and many in Washington look to cut defense spending as an easy out. That includes our current president.

“Today, we are just months away from an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with a trillion dollars in cuts, severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats. Don’t bother trying to find a serious military rationale behind any of this, unless that rationale is wishful thinking. Strategy is not driving President Obama’s massive defense cuts. In fact, his own Secretary of Defense warned that these reductions would be ‘devastating.’ And he is right.”

At this point, we could note the irony of the Republican presidential hopeful condemning spending cuts, arguing that it would hurt the economy if Washington spent fewer tax dollars, but let’s put that aside and focus on a more glaring problem: Romney thinks the automatic defense cuts are “President Obama’s massive defense cuts.” They’re not.

The Republican presidential candidate is actually condemning defense cuts offered by his congressional Republican allies.

Why did Obama’s “own Secretary of Defense” warn that “these reductions would be ‘devastating’ ”? Because they weren’t his boss’ idea.

As we discussed last week, there are deep, automatic defense cuts set to kick in at the end of the year. But the history matters: as part of last year’s debt-ceiling deal, policymakers accepted over $1 trillion in cuts that would be implemented if the so-called super-committee failed. Democrats weren’t completely willing to roll over – they wanted to create an incentive for Republicans to work in good faith

Republicans agreed: if the committee failed, the GOP would accept defense cuts and Dems would accept non-defense domestic cuts. The committee, of course, flopped, which put us on the clock for the automatic reductions (the “sequester”) that Republicans contributed to the very process they insisted upon.

Romney believes  these cuts would undermine the military during a time of war. That’s not a crazy position, and the Obama administration tends to agree. But when Romney tells voters the cuts are Obama’s idea, he’s either lying or ignorant. There’s no other option.

Postscript: It’s worth clarifying, in case there’s any confusion, that the Obama administration has endorsed some defense cuts, but those reductions have been endorsed by the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs, who believe the cuts are responsible and would not undermine the strength  and/or readiness of the military. That’s not what Romney’s talking about – he referred specifically to the “arbitrary,” automatic cuts that are “just months away.” Those cuts are the GOP’s idea.

Defense Spending and Mitt Romney

About those defense cuts...

Updated