Reps. Forbes And Akin: Obama Is “Hacking Away” At The Marine Corps

October 31, 2011 1:54 pm ET — Walid Zafar

Rep. Todd Akin

In an op-ed in Defense News, Reps. Todd Akin (R-MO) and Randy Forbes (R-VA) accuse the administration of "hacking away at the defense budget" and warn, quite erroneously, that proposed defense cuts might mean that "the future may be one without the Marine Corps as we know it." They write:

From the birth of the U.S. Marine Corps in November 1775 to the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima in March 1945 to the current pursuit of terrorists and efforts to ensure stability in the Western Pacific, U.S. Marines have always been recognized as Americans willing to go in harm's way at a moment's notice and stay as long as we ask them to. But that vision is at risk.

At a time when the Marines have been in combat for 10 years, Congress and the administration have taken to hacking away at the defense budget. For the Marines, even the reductions already enacted threaten to cut to the bone. Americans must recognize that the future may be one without the Marine Corps as we know it.

The two congressmen are part of a concerted effort by the House Armed Services Committee to stave off cuts to the defense budget. Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), chairman of the committee, has warned that cuts could necessitate a draft, while Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) has said that defense cuts could mean that we could not help Israel if it were invaded. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-TX), vice chairman of the committee, has gone as far as to say that "you simply could not operate the military with that second round of cuts."

Both Akin and Forbes, like other members of the committee, have received generous campaign contributions from the defense and aerospace industries, according to data from the Center for Responsible Politics. Virginia-based defense giant Northrop Grumman, for instance, is Forbes' largest contributor. (The defense industry, for its part, cherry-picked data to warn that proposed cuts would further imperil economic recovery.)

The argument that Forbes, Akin, and other members of the committee make ignores two important facts. First and foremost, even under the doomsday sequestration scenario, the defense budget would roughly go back to 2007 levels. At that time, we were fully engaged in two conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Second, while the military will be forced to cut personnel, it's important to keep in mind that, as a report by the Center for New American Security notes, there will be "decreasing operational demand for ground forces as the United States transitions out of Afghanistan and Iraq."

Republicans bluster over the deficit and debt. Yet when it's time to make needed cuts, they peddle in this sort of misinformation in order to prevent cuts that would do much to reduce our fiscal obligations without harming our ability to protect the homeland. "By using myths and half-truths to conceal these very real problems, opponents of reductions in defense spending condone military inefficiencies that threaten our economic and national security," explained the Project On Government Oversight's Ben Freeman in an op-ed published in The Hill.

The doomsday scenario can be avoided if the Super Committee agrees on cuts. But as long as Republicans oppose any new sources of revenue and continue to insist that the deficit be brought down by gutting programs that assist the poor, it is they who are guaranteeing that the military is forced to deal with massive cuts.