Having rid the world of a terrorist mastermind, America is celebrating a great victory. Yet the military responsible for this success faces unprecedented wartime budget cuts.
President Obama has announced a goal of $400 billion in defense cuts over the next decade. Reductions of that magnitude will surely undermine the ability of the American military to perform the kind of heroic operations regularly expected of them.
Representative Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has been bluntly critical of President Obama’s proposals. In a recent USA Today column, Mr. McKeon went so far as to say that “carving out critical capabilities while our nation is at war is simply wrongheaded.”
After assuming command of the committee last year, Mr. McKeon said, “I’ve been around a long time and I’ve seen us cut defense investment after wars–but never during war.”
Tomorrow, Chairman McKeon will lecture at The Heritage Foundation about his committee’s work on the fiscal year 2012 defense budget request. He is expected to make news with an announcement concerning a major weapons program. He will also discuss his changes to the President’s defense spending priorities, the committee’s dedication to oversight of the government’s largest spending bill, and a smarter way to enhance security while carefully serving as a steward of taxpayer dollars.
Representative McKeon and President Obama have different visions of America’s role on the world stage. The Congressman has publicly argued for continued American leadership, as opposed to what he describes as the president’s vision of “the world as flat, with our country sitting quietly between the United Kingdom and Uruguay.”
Echoing Ronald Reagan, Mr. McKeon believes America should not relinquish its place as a ‘shining city upon a hill,’ a symbol and champion for all people who yearn for the freedom and opportunity to become something more. “The role of America in the world will decline only if our elected leaders choose to retreat from America’s leadership role and global responsibilities,” McKeon said in the same speech. “This path of decline is not inevitable.”
All can agree there are significant savings to be found in defense. That is not to say, however, that the military can sustain wanton and repeated cuts across the board. In his April op-ed, Rep. McKeon put it bluntly:
“I will not stand idly by while the commander-in-chief strips our troops of the tools they need to accomplish the tasks laid out by his White House. I will not sit back and watch as our military decays from stress and our allies are left unsure of our resolve. And I will not accept these cuts without a fight.”