While congressional Republicans are scrambling for a way to avoid additional military budget cuts, a hawkish House Republican has gone even further by vowing to restore cuts that have already been set in motion.
The Pentagon has enacted a 10-year, $350 billion cut to planned spending. If Congress fails to pass a $1.2 trillion deficit-reduction package this year, it will face another $500 billion cut.
House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon is doing everything he can to make sure that doesn’t happen.
“We spend about half our base defense budget on personnel, investing in health care, education, living allowances for our troops,” McKeon said Wednesday during a speech at the Ronald Reagan Foundation and Library in California. “China buys things that shoot. And they can buy far more of them for a dollar than we can. So we must do our utmost to reverse the defense cuts.”
McKeon wants more ships, more aircraft and more troops than President Obama’s new national defense plan says are needed.
Claude Chafin, an Armed Services Committee spokesman, says McKeon’s main focus is finding a way to avoid the $500 billion cut. But McKeon is serious about reversing the first round of cuts by increasing the Pentagon budget year-by-year, and has discussed that very notion with House leaders, Chafin says.
One defense analyst says McKeon’s plan is a longshot.
Reversing the first round of cuts “would add $487 billion to the deficit over the next 10 years,” says Todd Harrison of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.
“I don’t think this is likely to happen because the Republicans in Congress insisted on these cuts in order to raise the debt ceiling,” Harrison says. “That’s what brought this all about in the first place.”