Conservatives clamor for cuts to defense spending

Americans for Tax Reform and a large number of other conservatives groups have released a joint letter to Republican congressional leaders calling for cuts to defense spending.

The letter reads, in part:

Defense spending, like the rest of the federal ledger, has grown substantially over the past few years. Under President Bush, military spending averaged 3.9 percent of GDP. Under President Obama, it has averaged 4.9 percent—a full percentage point higher. It is outrageous to assume spending under the president who launched the War on Terror, started the Department of Homeland Security and began the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is not sufficient for even the most hawkish member of Congress.

And yet, defense spending continues to enjoy protected status. The Pentagon is slated to spend $6.5 trillion over the next ten years – equal to the current projected deficit spending in the same time period. Ignoring the burden military spending places on the taxpayers promotes the same reckless spending ethos that led to failed “stimulus” policies, government bailouts and a prolonged economic recession.

Leadership on spending requires commitment that aims to permanently change the bias toward profligacy, not simply stem the tide in the short-term. True fiscal stewards cannot eschew real spending reform by protecting pet projects in the federal budget. Any such Department of Defense favoritism would signal that the new Congress is not serious about fiscal responsibility and not ready to lead.

 This is exactly what the GOP Congress needs to hear right now. There is a great danger that Republican promises to cut the budget, as in years past, will be limited to the vanishing point by qualifiers such as, “We will freeze/cut non-defense discretionary spending.”

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