GOP won’t bird-dog defense budget with these hawks at the helm

Connor Echols
Jan 10, 2023

Following a week of acrimonious fights in Congress, Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) managed to hammer out a deal with the small group of GOP lawmakers who opposed his bid to become speaker of the House. The agreement, which reportedly included a promise to reverse the $75 billion boost in this year’s defense budget, has been variously hailed and scorned as proof that Republicans are entering a new era on a range of issues.

At least when it comes to foreign policy, however, the establishment appears to have held on to its traditional role. On Tuesday, House leadership announced the chamber’s new committee chairs, and the results gave no indication that McCarthy intends to run afoul of GOP mandarins, especially when it comes to defense spending.

“For all the bluster about a new GOP, the people running the show are from the same mold as the ones who have been running it for more than a decade,” tweeted Justin Amash, a libertarian former member of Congress.

Take Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas), who will now take over as chair of the powerful Appropriations Committee. The Texas Republican has slowly climbed GOP ranks since entering Congress in 1997, and her efforts culminated in her 2019 appointment as the ranking member of appropriations.

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Hawks blow a lot of hot air over proposed budget cuts

William Hartung
Jan 10, 2023

Writing for the Washington Post on Monday, Jennifer Rubin charged that the potential Freedom Caucus proposal to freeze federal spending at 2022 levels, which, if implemented across the board, could wipe out $75 to $100 billion in increased Pentagon spending included in the recent budget bill, could have “serious national security ramifications.”

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Scapegoating Iran

She then quoted American Enterprise Institute budget hawk Mackenzie Eaglen, who said such a proposal “makes only authoritarians, despots and dictators smile,” adding, “it completely ignores the troops and is entirely divorced from strategic thought or the many and varied threats the country faces.”

Across-the-board cuts are never the best way to reduce government spending.  They mean cutting effective and wasteful programs in the same proportions instead of making smart choices about what works and what doesn’t. But the idea of cutting up to $100 billion or more from the Pentagon, one way or another, should be up for discussion.

And the idea that dictators worldwide are basing their decisions on whether the Pentagon budget is an enormous $750 billion or an obscenely enormous $850-plus billion is ludicrous. What counts is having a clear strategy and a wilingness to carry it out, not how many dollars one can spend (or, too often, waste).

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