The ‘Defense Spending Cuts’ Meme Grows

The soft-on-defense spending cuts meme is spreading today, both in the media and among Congressional Republicans–and now even a Blue Dog Democrat is picking it up.

Politico, again, reports that “Defense Secretary Robert Gates is steeling himself against blowback from Congress over his sweeping defense cuts, but he’s also girding for a fight within the Pentagon’s five walls.”

But while there is some evidence that there is early opposition within the Pentagon to some specific cuts, Gates has, once again, proposed a budget whose bottom line is higher than last year’s.

That’s not stopping Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee from piling on, though.The committee’s ranking member, John McHugh, said, “[i]f implemented, this proposal will be tantamount to an $8 billion cut in defense spending,” though he seems to be using a peculiar definition of “tantamount”.

He is joined by Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-VA), who tied the supposed cuts to the financial sector bailout and the stimulus. “Today’s announcement of defense cuts is a reaction to the fiscal strain caused by trillions in bailout and stimulus spending, rather than a result of regular strategic review and overall threat analysis,” Forbes said.

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) joined in the fun, arguing that “[w]hile President Obama is pushing for mind-boggling increases in domestic spending, the one place he wants to cut spending is defense”

“This makes no sense,” Akin went on, “not only because the world is not becoming safer, but because these cuts will eliminate thousands of well-paying jobs across America.”

And Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) released a peculiar statement diffusing responsibility for the budget’s authorship–“Secretary Gates, acting on behalf of the Obama administration, has recommended some serious changes to the FY2010 defense budget”–and then lambasting it: “I strongly urge the administration to reconsider these drastic defense spending cuts that will weaken our national security,” Lamborn said.

These Republicans are joined by, so far, a lone Democrat–Dan Boren of Oklahoma, and also a member of the Armed Services Committee. Boren joined much of the Oklahoma delegation in criticizing the Gates proposal in a series of statements reprinted on the website of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK).

One of those delegates is Rep. Mary Fallin (R-OK), a committee member, who says, “President Obama’s military budget cuts reflect misplaced priorities and a sense of naïveté we can ill-afford. With the United States fighting two wars and threats growing from rogue nations like Iran and North Korea, now is not the time to pull the rug out from under our armed services.”

Oklahoma stands to lose quite a bit if Gates gets his way–he has proposed the elimination of the so-called Future Combat Systems, a program which is produced in part in The Sooner State.