House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., has fired back at an unlikely critic, the conservative and typically pro-defense Wall Street Journal.
The rare flap between the HASC chairman and the newspaper’s conservative — and typically hawkish — editorial board broke out Tuesday with an editorial alleging McKeon and other GOP hawks want to raise spending caps to increase Pentagon spending.
McKeon used a letter to the editor to tell the paper’s editorial board’s piece “misses the mark on my position.” He also dubbed the editorial “a significant departure from your prior criticism of the president for allowing these defense cuts.”
The latter swipe was an apparent reference to a July 2012 editorial in which the WSJ board wrote this: “Defense shouldn’t be immune from cuts, but Mr. Obama’s policy choices are turning America into an entitlement state with a shrinking military.”
In his response, McKeon said he wants to replace the defense sequester cuts with other deficit-cutting items — not raise federal spending caps put in place by the 2011 Budget Control Act:
“Replacing defense sequester with cuts to other government spending is a viable solution and has been a staple of House-passed proposals this year including the fiscal year 2014 budget, National Defense Authorization Act and defense appropriations bill. Indeed, we brought spending under the budget caps, and I supported each of these measures. Support for national security and support for the caps are not mutually exclusive. Even the Republican Study Committee budget alternative kept defense at pre-sequestration levels because it shares my view that sequestration causes real damage to our military.”
Give McKeon a few style points, for dropping a Johnny Cash lyric in an otherwise substantive response:
“Your editorial states, “in normal budget times we would support his [my] priorities.” There’s an old Johnny Cash line, “you’re so heavenly minded, you’re no earthly good.” Earthly is apt—one-third of the Air Force’s combat aircraft were grounded this past summer. A scant two of 43 Army Brigade Combat teams are ready for combat. The Navy’s fleet is slipping down to pre-World War I levels. My interest isn’t “parochial”; it’s to stave off the largest gutting of our armed forces in modern times.”
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