Last summer's budget-cutting deal with the Republicans was a bad one, as we
pointed out here
repeatedly. The idea that Republicans were ever going to go along with cutting the Pentagon budget in any meaningful way was fantasy on the part of the White House and Democrats.
Not even the super committee established to cut $1.2 trillion out of discretionary spending over a 10-year period could knuckle them under to actually do that. The committee failed, just as many predicted it would. The penalty for failure was to sequester that money, triggering automatic, equal cuts from Pentagon and non-defense spending parceled out over a 10-year period. But, according to two Hill staffers, the GOP budget being presented next Tuesday will blow off sequestration of Pentagon spending. That budget, they told Kevin Baron and Nancy Cook at the National Journal will include no cuts in defense.
Republican defense leaders have protested that the military was taking the brunt of spending cuts. But by firewalling defense from further cuts, House Republicans would need to pay for those expected cuts another way. At a House Budget Committee hearing, Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told [Secretary of Defense Leon] Panetta he felt entitlement spending should be on the table.
“With regards to the Budget Control Act, an across-the-board $97 billion discretionary spending cut will be imposed on January 2, 2013, including devastating cuts to our national security,” Ryan said in statement provided to National Journal. [...]
Michael Steel, spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said in a statement, “The Speaker and Chairman McKeon are working towards a shared goal: ensuring that we have $1.2 trillion in additional deficit reduction, but doing it in a way that does not ‘hollow out’ our Armed Forces or jeopardize our national security.”
Even Pentagon critics who would like to see deep cuts in military spending of $1 trillion or more in the next decade tend to agree that cuts need to be planned for and that chopping nearly $100 billion out of the 2013 budget would be an imprudent shock. Better, they say, to make smaller cuts now and bigger cuts two, three and more years down the road when adjustments have been made in Pentagon plans. President Obama's proposed 2013 core budget for defense is $523 billion, only $7 billion less than in 2012. Additional money is proposed for Iraq, Afghanistan, nuclear weapons and other items. Over a decade, it would reduce spending by $487 billion below what would otherwise be the case on the current trajectory.
However anyone feels about the appropriate amount of spending for the Pentagon—a $1.5 trillion-$2 trillion cut over 10 years is my own preference—one thing is clear: Republicans can't be trusted to keep their end of any bargain. They've broken the budget deal they agreed to last summer. Flat out defaulted on it, with nary a downward glance of embarrassment.
Sure, given a chance, they'll make other deals with Democrats gullible enough to believe that this time, finally, they'll keep their word. Instead of continuing that fantasy, Democrats ought to call them out every single time they open their mouths to talk about bipartisanship and working cooperatively to solve the nation's problems. They should be called out because they obviously don't believe that. It's a phony pitch. But if it gets them a few inches closer to their real goal, they'll say anything, sign any deal, pledge to go halfsies or any other thing to get a bite or a slice of what they want. And then, when the time comes, they'll say "what deal?" And keep demanding the whole pie.
Bargaining in good faith doesn't exist for these guys. And those Democrats who still don't get it should stop pretending that it does.
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