WASHINGTON, DC-In the Obama era, only one Republican has ever been able to strike a budget deal with Democrats without pressing deadlines and drama – House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.
But after watching the president negotiate cuts to the Pentagon over the last several years, Ryan has arrived at the conclusion he’s not being honest.
“They keep moving the goalposts,” Ryan told Breitbart News in an interview from his Capitol Hill office last week. “They just want to hollow out the military,” he added.
Over several years, he said, successive Pentagon chiefs have proposed budget cuts, insisting they could not cut any further–only to propose new cuts the following year.
“[Former Secretary of Defense] Bob Gates initially identified $78 billion in defense cuts that addressed legitimate concerns about waste,” Ryan recalled, “Then President Obama, in that speech at George Washington University in 2011 where I sat in the front row, went after even more spending cuts. He set a target of $400 billion in cuts and asked the Pentagon to find a way to reach it. It was at that moment that we switched from a strategy-driven budget to a budget-driven strategy.
“His successor, Leon Panetta, came and testified to Congress that these $400 billion cuts represented the absolute bottom, that it was dangerous for the Pentagon to go any further.
“Then, last year, the new Secretary, Chuck Hagel, asked for more cuts and said that was it. They keep lowering the minimum level, below which the military cannot defend the country. And now, of course, this year Hagel is announcing these major cuts.”
Last month, Hagel announced dramatic cuts to the military, particularly the Army, which would be reduced to a force of about 420,000. Though Hagel had said in 2013 that such cuts were possible, partly due to the “sequester” of the Budget Control Act of 2011, revisions to the sequester in last December’s budget deal were meant to blunt the impact of those cuts.
Asked if the administration was acting in bad faith, Ryan answered yes, it was.
“They keep moving the goalposts. They increase other spending by 63% over the next ten years [in the president’s new budget], while cutting defense. They’re raising $1.8 trillion through tax hikes, half of which goes to deficit reduction and half of which just goes to more spending. They just want to hollow out the military.
“The foreign policy Obama has is not by accident, but by design. This is who he is, and has always been, and wants to be in his second term. He wants a far more insignificant military.
“He’s decommissioning eleven cruisers, canceling the A-10 program that is essential to supporting ground troops, reducing the Navy to pre-World War I levels and the Army to pre-World War II levels,” Ryan said.