Republicans Break Budget Promises To Increase Military Spending
Republicans have now proposed a budget that contains billions of dollars in additional military spending, breaking a central promise made by Republicans on the campaign trail to reduce federal spending. The move to increase war spending was pushed by Republican hawks in both the House and Senate and led to push back from both Democrats and fiscally conservative Republicans.
The conflict between fiscal conservatism and arms industry shilling is splitting Congressional Republicans in two with some sticking to their campaign positions concerning deficit spending and others waving the flag to cover their retreat into breaking the budget to give favors to defense contractor donors.
The new defense spending is also making the deficit hawks worry that now that the Pentagon’s budget has escaped spending limits other parts of the budget close to the Republican majority’s heart may as well. Another such part would be agriculture which is tied to numerous Republicans who represent rural parts of the country and rely on agricultural industry campaign donations to run for office.
After intervention by Republican leaders, the House Budget Committee voted out an otherwise austere spending plan, promising to add $2 billion in additional “emergency” war funding to a budget that already raised combat funds by $38 billion. That money, over the objections of deficit hawks, will be added Monday as the full House prepares to debate the tax-and-spending blueprint.
In the Senate, a revolt by defense advocates forced the Budget Committee to add $38 billion in military spending through a war account not subject to statutory spending restrictions. That came little more than 24 hours after the Senate committee unveiled a budget plan that capped war spending at President Obama’s $58 billion request and added parliamentary language intended to thwart any increases in the account.
The dramatic spending increases undermine a key Republican talking point used to cut social programs as Senator Bernie Sanders noted saying of the budge process “This discussion is really quite extraordinary. You’re always telling us the deficit is so bad we’ve got to cut programs for the elderly, for the sick and for the poor, and suddenly all of that rhetoric disappears.”
Though some, such as economist Paul Krugman, think the Republican’s new budget is a con job from start to finish, reducing spending has been a mantra for the GOP since the rise of the Tea Party. The spending increases for the Pentagon may be the beginning of the end for the dominance of the deficit hawks. If nothing else it kills any credibility for the argument that social programs have to be cut because “everything” is being cut.