It’s truly unbelievable what Republicans will say and do in order to justify their sequester (the result of their debt ceiling hostage taking). The Republican Senate Minority Whip is now claiming that the harsh, immediate and random cuts to defense won’t jeopardize national security. Don’t worry about it. That’s the new meme.
Monday night, as we inched closer to the sequester cuts kicking in sans any alternative proposal by the House, Republican Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn of Texas floated the idea that these major cuts to defense won’t really hurt us after all. Never mind that Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says that the cuts will definitely harm national security. What does he know. Cornyn has “looked into it” and he’s not worried.
CNN reported that Cornyn said “he plans to make the case to other Republicans and the public that despite warnings from the Pentagon that the mandated cuts will be devastating, the overall amount of defense spending will actually still rise.”
Sure, he’s worried about our security, but Cornyn assured CNN that if another 9/11 happens, Congress will act. (Has he met the House Republicans?) What about another Benghazi, sir? What about our troops right now? What about our borders?
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter explained to PBS that the real issue will be that the troops won’t be ready to fight a war, so Cornyn can say anything he wants – the reality is quite different. By the end of the year, if this keeps up, “Two-third of our Army units, active-duty Army units and all of our reserve units will not be ready to fight other wars.”
But ultimately, Cornyn concludes that in the balance between security and the deficit, the deficit should win because we have ended our fighting in Iraq and are in the drawdown phase in Afghanistan.
Cornyn sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee, but I have to wonder if Cornyn realizes that even though we are drawing down, we are still in advise and assist mode. We are still fighting when needed. We still have troops there. He knows these things are true, so his reasoning makes no sense. Carter agrees that the DOD can make cuts, but says that this is not the responsible way to do it and Panetta warned that defense cuts would slow training and the procurement of weapons for our troops, resulting in a “hallow force”.
While President Obama exempted military personnel from sequester cuts, the defense cuts are going to harm civilians working in the DOD (44% of whom are veterans, by the way Republicans), who may face losing a day a week of work for up to 22 weeks. That’s a 20% pay cut.
Furthermore, the sequester cuts will impact border security, aviation security, and much more. Republicans are so desperate to excuse this debacle that they’re taking aim at the defense department and alienating what is supposed to be their base. GOP= “Strong on defense!” In reality, of course, Republicans ceded national security to Obama years ago, but for pure political optics, this is quite an admission/moment.
Cornyn hopes that his Que Sera, Sera narrative regarding the defense cuts will go big this week, but of course the Republicans’ back up plan is giving the President all of the power to make the tough decisions. Seriously. That’s their big idea.
So what we have here is just another way of saying, “We can’t fix the debacle we made. So we’re going to blame Obama, tell you it’s not as bad as it looks, and run as fast as we can while throwing Obama the keys.”
I remember this approach back when John McCain assured us the “fundamentals of the economy are strong” the day after former fed chairman Alan Greenspan said the market was the worst he had ever witnessed. You know what happened next.
Republicans are so unable to govern that they are willing to set a precedent of giving their constitutional budgetary authority to the executive branch. This is not what we elected them to do, and it’s not how separation of powers is meant to work. Quite simply, it’s absurd negligence.
For months Republicans have been screaming about Benghazi security failures. Cornyn led the charge that we needed to get to the bottom of the Benghazi attacks. Cornyn was also happy to filibuster incoming Defense Secretary fellow Republican Chuck Hagel over “more information” on Benghazi (or old grudges, we keep getting different excuses from Republicans on the Hagel hate). Cornyn then claimed it wasn’t a historical filibuster of a defense secretary, but PolitiFact gave him a mostly false for that and yes, it was a filibuster.
Cornyn even accused Obama of putting our national security at risk by nominating Chuck Hagel. I kid you not.
Now Cornyn apparently believes that we can defund the defense department and then poof, when we need a well trained Navy, Airforce or Army — presto! They appear; no training necessary.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.