Rep. Rooney: Defense Cuts Mean We're Ceding "Global Superpower Status"
Speaking to Radio America's Greg Corombos earlier in the week, Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL), warned that proposed cuts to the defense budget would prevent the military from fighting future wars. Rooney, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, said he thinks the Department of Defense budget is being targeted in a way that will cede the our dominant superpower status to countries like China.
COROMBOS: You're on the Armed Services Committee. If we go to those defaults, what happens to our military?
ROONEY: We basically are gutting it. I mean honestly, we're going back to the late 1970s when we, you know, figured that this was the easy way to cut some spending. And you know, there are cuts to entitlements, but they are nowhere near, you know, in proportion to what we're — we're basically picking on defense when entitlements are things that, as I said before, are eventually going to suffocate us. We're hollowing out our military to the fact that if anything ever happens where we needed to go to war, we, I believe, wouldn't be able to do it. That's coming from Secretary Gates himself, who worked for the president when he came and testified before us in the Armed Services Committee before he retired and we were doing the budget for the Department of Defense, he gave us this is absolutely as low as we can go. We cannot go a penny more. And basically what sequestration, the default as you said, would go another $800 billion and that would be something that the Department of Defense, I dunno where you're cutting at that point. We're not going to be keeping up with China, we're not going to be keeping up with our enemies, we're going to be flying around in planes that are antiquated and boats, you know, our navy's not going to be able to keep up. And essentially, you're ceding your, you know, your global superpower status, you know, at that point, I would think.
Republicans on the Armed Services Committee have been behind a full-court press to stave off cuts by predicting all sorts of dire scenarios. The New York Times reports today that "Republicans on the House and Senate armed services committees, are readying legislation that would undo the automatic across-the-board cuts totaling nearly $500 billion for military programs, or exchange them for cuts in other areas of the federal budget."
While it's true that Defense Department officials are opposed to defense cuts, there are several important facts to remember in this debate. First, the military budget is not being gutted as Republicans are suggesting. Even under the worst-case scenario, the budget would go back to about 2007 levels. Second, we've started the drawdown process in both Iraq and Afghanistan. As those who wars come to an end, it's not unreasonable to expect the military to need fewer war-fighting resources.
And lastly, while American power is displayed through military might, no country in the world, let alone China, is even close to matching us in terms of military spending. Our current defense budget, as the Economist notes, is larger than the next 17 countries combined, with most of the countries behind us being our close allies.