Crucifying Defense

Defense is going to lose the budget battle if Congress can’t agree on ways to increase revenues or cut mandatory programs, said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), House Armed Services Committee ranking member. “Simply arguing about the defense budget and saying, ‘If you cut this, here is all the terrible stuff that’s going to happen,’ is not sufficient to win the day,” said Smith, speaking Thursday at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C. The federal deficit is simply too large, he said. Even if the congressional joint committee on deficit reduction can come up with the mandatory $1.2 trillion in cuts over the next 10 years, the deficit is too unwieldy for that to really make a difference, said Smith. Right now, US debt is running at about 80 percent of gross domestic product, he said. A 10-year, $1.2 trillion cut from the deficit-reduction committee would bring it down to roughly 75 percent, said Smith. However, experts argue, that number should be closer to 50 percent, he said. “What I’m telling you is that if we don’t make a case for how to fix that, defense is going to be crucified because it’s part of the discretionary budget,” he said. (AEI webpage of event, including event video)