Rep. Gohmert: "Even Bin Laden Could Never Have Foreseen" Deficits This Big
In an interview on Frank Gaffney's radio program last week, Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) criticized defense cuts included in the recent bipartisan budget deal and suggested lawmakers in Washington were accessories to Osama bin Laden's goal of bankrupting the country. "Even bin Laden could never have foreseen that a United States government" would run deficits as large as today's, he complained. "That's just unthinkable, even to the craziest wackos out there."
GOHMERT: You know and I know one of the things that bin Laden, back before he was dead, had commented that you know, wasn't it 500...was it 500,000 dollars they spent setting up 9/11 and that they were ... he was hoping they would bring down the united states economically by doing these kind of things that don't cost much and yet set us reeling. Well it did set us reeling, but the problem is we have also now become accessories to deepening our financial troubles just by not being responsible. Even bin Laden could never have foreseen that a United States government would take in 2 trillion and spend 3.8--or--9 trillion. That's...that's just unthinkable even to the craziest wackos out there, but son of a gun that's what we've done. And it does expose us. And then when people see that we've put our own defense out there on the table and are willing to cut it by hundreds of billions of dollars they gotta be thinking we're nuts. And I think we were to do this.
This is the sort of outlandish comment that we've come to expect from Gohmert. Nevertheless, he makes a good point, though probably not one he intended. Bin Laden's stated goal was to "[bleed] America to the point of bankruptcy" by ensnaring the U.S. in a prolonged conflict. Gohmert believes our current fiscal situation is far worse than bin Laden could have imagined — and yet he adamantly opposes any cuts to defense programs.
According to the Congressional Research Service, through March of this year, Congress had approved $1.283 trillion to fight the global war on terror. An estimate by Nobel Prize-winning economist and Columbia University professor Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes, a professor at the Kennedy School, puts the figure closer to $3 trillion. "[I]t seems clear that without this war, not only would America's standing in the world be higher, our economy would be stronger," the two wrote in the Washington Post last year.
Gohmert cites bin Laden to support his belief that the U.S. is headed towards bankruptcy. All the while, Gohmert defends the inflated defense budget on that grounds that any reductions would expose the country to more terrorism. And he does both of these things while being Congress' most outspoken proponent of starting another costly war with Iran.