Politics
In this photo provided by the U.S. Navy, an aerial bow view of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise is shown as it transits the Atlantic Ocean. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stacy D. Laseter) In this photo provided by the U.S. Navy, an aerial bow view of the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise is shown as it transits the Atlantic Ocean. (AP Photo/U.S. Navy, Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Stacy D. Laseter)  

Defense hawks appeal for tea party opposition to additional military spending cuts

Photo of Matthew Boyle
Matthew Boyle
Investigative Reporter

The Coalition for a Common Defense is asking the congressional deficit-reduction super committee to refrain from making any cuts to defense spending, and it’s making a pitch to grassroots fiscal conservatives from the tea party movement to do so.

“The DOD budget has already been cut some $500 billion under the terms of the debt ceiling deal,” CCD’s Tommy Sears told The Daily Caller. “Even the Joint Chiefs say that further cuts will jeopardize its ability to carry out current and future missions.  Secretary Panetta has referred to these additional cuts as ‘catastrophic.’”

Sears said further cuts may cause the military to less effectively defend the country.

Democrats on the super committee are expected to make a major push to reduce military spending, as are some fiscal conservatives. The committee’s been fairly quiet as to what it’s looking at for cuts and what’s off the table, so it’s unclear where most of the members stand. But, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona has said he’ll walk away from any proposals that cut defense spending at all.

Even if Democrats cut the entire national defense budget, Sears said it wouldn’t solve the problem. “In 2010 our nation ran a budget deficit of $1.2 trillion dollars,” Sears said in an email. “Even if we did not spend a penny on defense for that year, our nation would still have ran a deficit of $500 billion. Clearly we cannot pay the nation’s entitlement tab with the Department of Defense credit card.”

At a Center for Security Policy event Tuesday evening where he received the 2011 “Keeper of the Flame” award, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, of California, doubled down on his opposition to military spending cuts.

“Most of you are aware that there’s some pretty steep cuts to the defense budget on the table right now,” McKeon said at the Union Station event in downtown Washington, D.C.

“This is a battle that we must win,” said McKeon. “The sword hanging over the congressional super committee represents one of the greatest threats to our standing in the world and our security that we have faced since the Carter years.”

“We’ve proven that the enemy cannot break us on the field of battle,” McKeon continued. “But in the coming months, Washington may do what no army in history has been able to accomplish, break the American military.”

Rep. Allen West, a tea party champion and freshman Republican from Florida, also spoke at the Tuesday event. West also supports slowing cuts to defense spending but has sponsored legislation that cut defense spending in the past. West received a standing ovation for his benediction explaining how he feels McKeon must, as this year’s “Keeper of the Flame,” defend those who defend the country.

West often argued that the military and politicians need to rethink how they spend money; he said they need to refocus on making the right decisions for successful military strategy instead of continuing to make the same mistakes over and over.

Sears said supporters of protecting the military budgets need tea party movement leaders like West and others to support the Department of Defense and protect it from the super committee axe.

“Promoting constitutional principles is the main goal of the tea party,” Sears said. “Providing for the common defense is the primary duty required under the Constitution. The ‘Coalition for the Common Defense’ believes the tea party gets this.”

On Wednesday, Sears’ Coalition for the Common Defense discussed with several members of Congress and other advocacy group leaders why it believes the defense budget is so sacred. Tea party-type leaders, including Colin Hanna of Let Freedom Ring and Scott Cooper of the Virginia Tea Party Federation, asked members to halt the drive to cut the military budget.

If the super committee doesn’t reach an agreement by its fast-approaching deadline, automatic cuts to defense spending will go into effect. Whether the automatic cuts go into effect or the super committee makes its own defense cuts, Sears said the military can’t sustain more spending slashes.

“It is nearly universally acknowledged that our platforms and weapons systems have been extended up to or even beyond their breaking points,” Sears said. “For example, the average age of a refueling tanker is 47 years, grandsons are flying the same B-52 bombers their grandfathers did during the Cuban missile crisis, and our navy is the smallest it has been since 1916.”

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