A defense-cut road trip

Updated
 
McCain, Graham, and Ayotte are pointing fingers in the wrong direction.
McCain, Graham, and Ayotte are pointing fingers in the wrong direction.
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Republican concerns about the looming, automatic defense cuts are reaching a near-panic. Some high-profile GOP senators are now taking their message on the road, in the hopes that public pressure will change the direction of the discussion.

Three Republican senators vocal on national security concerns plan to hit the road next week to warn voters in four key swing states about how automatic spending cuts at the Pentagon could harm their communities.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) plan to visit companies, universities and research centers in Florida, North Carolina, Virginia and New Hampshire that could bear the brunt of deep defense spending reduction set to take effect next year.

All three serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee and speak regularly about the danger of the spending cuts that Congress and the White House agreed to last year as part of a deficit-reduction plan. Unless lawmakers approve alternative reductions before January, the government will be forced to slash $110 billion in spending next year, evenly divided between the military and non-defense programs.

At issue, of course, is the so-called “sequester,” which many believe would cut Pentagon funding too much, too quickly. That’s no doubt the message that McCain, Graham, and Ayotte intend to take on the road.

Indeed, the three apparently hope town-hall discussions in swing states – Florida, North Carolina, Virginia, and New Hampshire – should help persuade the public how right they are.

But for crying out loud, can the political world please try to remember that these defense cuts were a Republican idea – and that McCain, Graham, and Ayotte all voted for the same plan they’re now condemning?

To his credit, Dana Milbank hasn’t forgotten the recent history.

If the defense cuts are Obama’s, they are also John Boehner’s, Eric Cantor’s, Mitch McConnell’s and Jon Kyl’s. The bill passed with the votes of a majority of House and Senate Republicans…. [The GOP] continues to choose tax cuts over defense spending.

The automatic defense cuts came about largely because Republicans on the supercommittee refused any tax increase. By coincidence, the choice between tax cuts and defense spending came to the Senate floor again on Wednesday – and Republicans again chose the cuts.

As we’ve discussed, 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 when GOP members refused to compromise, which put us on the clock for the automatic reductions that Republicans contributed to the very process they insisted upon.

If McCain, Graham, and Ayotte are headed to swing states to complain about this, is it too much to ask that someone inquire as to why their party pushed for this policy in the first place?

Kelly Ayotte, Defense Spending, Sequester, Lindsey Graham and John McCain

A defense-cut road trip

Updated