The negotiations over the election of Rep. Kevin McCarthy as Speaker of the House prompted howls of protest from the Washington establishment for one major reason – the fear that the budget freeze McCarthy promised to pursue in exchange for the votes of key members of the Freedom Caucus would result in substantial cuts in the Pentagon budget, perhaps as high as $75 to $100 billion from current levels. A number of Democrats accused Republicans of threatening to “defund the Pentagon” by bringing its massive budget back to Fiscal Year 2022 levels. This was posturing at best, given that FY 2022 levels would still represent one of the highest Pentagon budgets since World War II, higher than at the peak of the Vietnam or Korean Wars or the height of the Cold War.
Some Republicans who were promoting the budget freeze rushed to twitter and the media to deny that their plan would have any impact on the Department of Defense. Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) said that defense was never discussed in the deliberations over the Speaker vote. All Jim Jordan (R-OH) could come up with in terms of potential cuts were the Pentagon’s alleged “woke agenda” and an oversized officer corps – moves that would be lucky to save 1% of the $858 billion approved for the Pentagon and nuclear weapons work at the Department of Energy for FY 2023.
But as a series of statements and articles compiled by John Isaacs of the Council for a Livable World and the Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation has shown, there are Republican members of Congress and Republican-friendly individuals and organizations outside of Congress who appear to be serious about seeking Pentagon spending reductions. Former Trump defense secretary Christopher Miller asserted that the Pentagon budget could be cut “in half” if the Pentagon moved to a “smaller, more nimble force.” Kevin Roberts, the head of the Heritage Foundation took to the pages of the American Conservative to call for long recommended cost saving measures like closing excess military bases and eliminating older, legacy weapons – measures that have been consistently blocked by Congress on a bipartisan basis. Unlike Roy and Jordan, Roberts seems to be in dead earnest:
“Congress accepted the D.C. canard that a bigger budget alone equals a stronger military. But now, facing down a record debt to the tune of $242,000 per household, conservatives are ready to tackle an entrenched problem and confront the political establishment, unaccountable federal bureaucrats, and well-connected defense contractors all at once in order to keep the nation both solvent and secure.”
Read the full piece in Forbes.