Defense-Cut Hypocrisy Makes GOP Converge With Democrats
By Laura Litvan & Julie Bykowicz - 2013-02-20T01:00:00Z
He’s an anti-tax Republican representative from Ohio. She’s an anti-war Democratic senator from Washington state. Jim Jordan and Patty Murray have little in common, save this: Protecting multibillion-dollar defense projects in their states from budget cuts.
Together, they embody why reducing the defense budget is difficult, even with wide agreement that the government spends too much. The Pentagon’s largess is so sprawling that, through military bases and contracts, it touches all 535 members of Congress -- money that translates into jobs and revenue for companies that are major campaign donors.
“It’s hellishly hard to cut a major defense acquisition program” because of those connections, said Gordon Adams, a U.S. foreign policy professor at American University in Washington who as an associate director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Bill Clinton reviewed the Defense Department’s annual budget requests.
Members of Congress are de facto lobbyists for defense companies, inviting colleagues to tour plants and organizing letters to pressure the Pentagon. The alternative to reducing or eliminating specific defense projects is a $1.2 trillion across- the-board, automatic budget reduction spread over nine years that would begin taking effect March 1. About half of that would come from national security programs.