Why neocons can’t cut

“We are not going to gut our military.” – Vice Presidential candidate Paul Ryan, October 20, 2012

Throughout the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney and his VP pick Paul Ryan promised they were not going to let President Obama “gut our military.”

This “gutting” referred to the automatic cuts known as “sequester” mandated by the Budget Control Act of 2011. The across-the-board cuts did disproportionately affect military spending to the tune of about $22 billion.

But they were never actual cuts. They were simply decreases in the rate of growth. Military spending stood at $718 billion in 2011, the year sequester became law. But military spending would’ve been $967 billion this year, even under the sequester.

How was a military budget that went up $249 billion this year considered “gutting” the military?

The same way that Democrats believe the slightest reduction in domestic spending is “gutting” education, healthcare, the poor and just about anything else.

The Democrats were eager to get rid of the sequester to protect domestic spending. Many hawkish Republicans were eager to get rid of the sequester to protect Pentagon spending.

The big spenders in both parties got their way yesterday in the House when the Ryan-Murray budget agreement passed 332-94.

The Ryan-Murray budget gives us $60 billion in new spending in the next two years. Over the next decade it adds about $7 trillion to the national debt.

Worst of all, this agreement kills the sequester — the only measure that has given us any semblance of cuts in a generation or more. Our deficit went down by over half this year thanks to the sequester. In another nine years, it might’ve balanced our budget.

Now the national debt might reach $25 trillion thanks to this “deal.”

At least we didn’t “gut our military,” some conservatives are now saying.

The majority of Republicans who voted for Ryan-Murray were by no means neoconservatives (a term that is certainly overused and often misapplied beyond what is a relatively small group), but the fear of cutting a cent from the military budget is certainly due to that type of thinking and influence.

Under the Ryan-Murray budget deal that passed the House, military spending will go up to $1.012 trillion. Under the sequester it was still $967 billion — which is still more than the next 13 nations combined and up drastically from the $287 billion we spent on defense in 2001.

Why should protecting a relatively small $45 billion in Pentagon spending this year take precedent over keeping intact the only law that has effectively reduced spending across the board?