House Republicans Seek to Restore Defense Cuts

With the sequester now in effect, House Republicans — who, despite their terrible messaging, have managed a win against the White House — are turning their attention toward a continuing resolution that would keep the spending cuts around, though it substitute some of them with cuts elsewhere in the budget:

Republicans controlling the House are moving to take the roughest edges off across-the-board spending cuts that are just starting to take effect.

Even as the military would bear a $43 billion cut over just seven months, the new GOP measure released Monday would give the Pentagon much-needed funding for readiness. It would also ease the pain felt by critical agencies like the FBI and the Border Patrol.

The effort is part of a huge spending measure released Monday that would fund day-to-day federal operations through September — and head off a potential government shutdown later this month.

The measure would leave in place automatic cuts of 5 percent to domestic agencies and 7.8 percent to the Pentagon ordered Friday by President Barack Obama after months of battling with Republicans over the budget. But the House Republicans’ legislation would award the Defense Department its detailed 2013 budget while other agencies would be frozen in place at 2012 levels.

The good news is that the continuing resolution, which is set for a vote in the House on Thursday, would target money that the Obama Administration needs to implement ObamaCare in the coming months, but specifics haven’t been made clear.

The bad news is that Republicans are waivering on defense cuts.

Republicans have, for far too long, tried to protect the defense budget from cuts, claiming that it would hurt our military prepardness and potentially overseas efforts to curb terrorism. Nothing could be further from the truth. While the sequester does trim defense spending down to 2006 levels — about $50 billion per year over the next 10 years — Christopher Preble of the Cato Institute notes that this is still higher than the peak of the Cold War.

Unfortunately, Republicans don’t seem to realize that military spending has gotten completely out of control over the last several years. When you look at the budget for the last fiscal year, FY 2012, defense compromised around a quarter of all federal spending and right at 51% of discretionary spending.

While it’s great that they want to trim the fat out of the budget, Republicans are limited on what they can do if they don’t start taking a serious look at defense spending.

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