Political Animal


October 10, 2011 8:30 AM Romney targets non-existent defense cuts

By Steve Benen

In a speech on Friday, Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney made an important vow:

“As President, on Day One, I will focus on rebuilding America’s economy. I will reverse President Obama’s massive defense cuts. Time and again, we have seen that attempts to balance the budget by weakening our military only lead to a far higher price, not only in treasure, but in blood.” [emphasis added]

In fact, Romney, whose ignorance about national security and foreign policy has often been rather amusing, wants the Pentagon budget to get even bigger.

Standing among retired airplanes on the U.S.S. Yorktown, a decommissioned World War II aircraft carrier, Mitt Romney told a small group of veterans on Thursday that given the global threats to America’s interests, the nation’s defense spending should be increased instead of cut.

Let’s take these one at a time. First, Romney believes President Obama has approved “massive defense cuts.” Here, however, are the Pentagon budgets over the last six years, with the red columns showing defense spending under Bush, and the blue columns showing defense spending under Obama.

I realize Romney can be a little slow on the uptake, but when the Pentagon gets more money — in some cases, even money it didn’t ask for — that’s not a “cut.” If Romney wants to be taken seriously on these issues, he should probably take the time to brush up on these pesky details. The guy’s been running for president non-stop for five years, so the fact that he’s still confused about this isn’t encouraging.

Second, Romney, who claims to be concerned about deficit reduction, wants to increase defense spending? The United States spends nearly as much on its military as every other country on the planet combined, and the former Massachusetts governor believes officials looking to cut the federal budget should look elsewhere?

Here are two simple questions for Romney, should any enterprising campaign reporters want to follow-up on this:

1. If defense spending shouldn’t be cut, where will Romney find savings to bring the budget closer to balance?

2. If defense spending should be increased, how will Romney pay for it?

Steve Benen is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly, joining the publication in August, 2008 as chief blogger for the Washington Monthly blog, Political Animal.


Post a comment
  • sick-n-effn-tired. on October 10, 2011 8:40 AM:

    Look up Romney in the dictionary .
    Pandering Lying sack of shit

  • Michael on October 10, 2011 8:40 AM:

    Here's a third simple question for Romney: Does he understand what "cut" means?

  • c u n d gulag on October 10, 2011 8:41 AM:

    Extreme spending in the defense of liberty, is no vice!

    Anything to keep Breshnev and Mao at bay.

    What's scary is, Mitt is probably, outside of Huntsman, the smartest one up there on the podium.

  • Dave in Austin on October 10, 2011 8:46 AM:

    This is simple.

    If Romney or any other Repug is elected and pugs have the majority or close to a majority in Congress, all these spending cuts will magically disappear and deficits won't matter.

    Mark my words on this.

    I'm 1 of the 99%

  • MarcoZandrini on October 10, 2011 8:46 AM:

    "What's scary is, Mitt is probably, outside of Huntsman, the smartest one up there on the podium.". What's really scary is number of zero information voters (0IV) who buy Mitt's crap. So much for the Internet improving people's knowledge of the world around them!


  • Danp on October 10, 2011 8:49 AM:

    2. If defense spending should be increased, how will Romney pay for it?

    Ooh, Ooh! I know. He'll say we should cut more taxes in order to allow businesses to grow the economy, and then there will be more people paying taxes. It's a plan that has never failed (the argument, not the policy).

  • martin on October 10, 2011 8:59 AM:

    Although I believe the military budget should be more than slashed, your chart and argument could be misleading.

    A "cut" in standard Washington budget terms can be an increase, just not as big a one as promised or projected. Remember when Newt and friends went around saying they weren't cutting medicare, they were just giving it less of an increase?

    I haven't looked up the numbers, but this may be the case with the Pentagon (though I doubt it).

  • Ron Byers on October 10, 2011 9:00 AM:

    Would somebody ask Romney exactly what Defense Cuts he is talking about?

    Through two administrations Bill Gates fought year after year to cut unnecessary programs only to see his requests for cuts rejected by the Congress.

    I wonder when our new troll starts his shift?

  • rea on October 10, 2011 9:02 AM:

    By "massive defense cuts" I'm sure he means "cut the F-22 and failed to reinstate various weapons systems cut by Rumsfeld.

  • Mudge on October 10, 2011 9:05 AM:

    Romney is trying to get the idea across to his base that Obama cut the defense budget. The fact that it is a lie is incidental; the uncritical base will lap it up and believe it. Of course defense can be paid for in the Republican voter's mind by cutting welfare, or medicare, or scuttling the health care law. Deficit reduction and increasing defense spending occupy separate cubbyholes in the Republican voter's mind and need no reconciliation.

    A more challenging question for Romney would be how he'd be able to increase military spending if there were a balanced budget amendment coupled with the 67% vote proposed for any tax increase legislation. Any increase in the cost of donuts would be devastating.

  • Hedda Peraz on October 10, 2011 9:05 AM:

    After increasing defense spending, I hope President Romney will open Obama's gulags and free all the brave Tea Party members who dared to question his patriotism.

  • azportsider on October 10, 2011 9:07 AM:

    "Would somebody ask Romney exactly what Defense Cuts he is talking about?"

    Who? Somebody from the corporate-owned MSM? Um...no, I don't think that'll ever happen.

  • Mittens Willard on October 10, 2011 9:08 AM:

    The erudite Danp has the trew sight . The magic incantation , mild and tasty .
    This tried and true bottom of the hat revelation , a visionary prophesy of the fickle cornucopia of the chosen , putting the acid criticism the protected Dewar's of life suffer , (despite being winners of many prestigious awards) , to rights over the mean over carbohydrated suds 'n spuds crowd .
    To blood chilling cries of Cheers , our Dewars will freeze the beer of these upstarts .

  • max on October 10, 2011 9:12 AM:

    At this point I think we know enough about Romney to conclude he meets H. L. Mencken's criterion for a politician, i.e., a creature who can sit on a fence and put both ears in the ground.

  • CRhetts on October 10, 2011 9:15 AM:

    Martin, Obama's first defense budget was characterized in the right wing media as a huge cut, despite the fact that it was an actual increase in real spending. The reason for this was that overall, the Obama budget came in at less than the Pentagon was asking for. However, this was not unusual - since it is a game Congress and the Pentagon play every year. The military ALWAYS asks for more than it knows it will get.

  • jcricket on October 10, 2011 9:45 AM:

    Romney is trying to set up a comparison of Carter/Reagan to Obama/himself. Building up the military is exactly one of the points Reagan made against Carter's wanting to pare it down some.

    Willard wants so very much to be accepted as a solid republican in the mold of Reagan that he is going to such lengths as to even mimic the campaign in 1980.

    Look for more and more of these comparisons initiated by the Romney campaign staff. It's all they have to counter the formerly-whispered-but-now-out-loud Anti-Mormon campaign.

  • Buffalo Harold on October 10, 2011 10:00 AM:

    Let's be honest: Mitt Romney is nothing more than well-tailored, amiable dunce. And he rarely misses an opportunity to reinforce that image.

  • Grumpy on October 10, 2011 10:01 AM:

    "Time and again, we have seen that attempts to balance the budget by weakening our military only lead to a far higher price, not only in treasure, but in blood."

    What the hell is he talking about? What time? When again? Is it, as jcricket seems to suggest, an allusion to Operation Eagle Claw, the failed attempt to rescue hostages in Iran? 'Cause budget cuts weren't the problem.

  • Bartender on October 10, 2011 11:29 AM:

    My third question would be: If you willing to utter such an obvious bold face lie, why should anyone trust you as Commander and Chief?

  • liam foote on October 10, 2011 4:51 PM:

    Mr. Romney made these remarks in addressing a group of students at a military institute where he surely assumed his pledge would resonate. To keep in character he need now merely insist that he never said any such thing.

  • CATMAN on October 10, 2011 6:09 PM:

    In fact, there has been a cut in total military spending
    (I refuse to use "defense") in that the Bush administration funded the Iraq and Afgan wars with "emergency appropriations" to hide the true costs of the wars by keeping them off budget. Obama rolled the war costs back into the DOD budget so the graph is somewhat misleading. Please do not think I support our huge military expenditures that are geared to power projection and out of proportion to what is required to defend our homeland. Lost in the Solyndra debate is the fact that the $535 million was about what we pissed away in 36 hours in the Iraq war