Defense Spending

Moral High Ground: GOP Rep Very Upset About Defense Spending, Not So Much the Other Stuff

Written by SK Ashby

The headline is that a GOP representative is bashing his own party over their proposed budgets, but it's not because each iteration would drastically cut a wide range of social programs and ruin the lives of millions of Americans.

Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) is very upset with his party not because they want to transform Medicare into a hideous coupon program rather than a butterfly, but because they want to increase defense spending without paying for it.

In an op-ed written for the Wall Street Journal, Mulvaney blasts the party for abandoning fiscal responsibility and, for some inexplicable reason, the media for paying too much attention to "racial tension."

Four years on, debt and deficits are passé, and the deficit is only a third of what it was just five years ago. Never mind that this year’s deficit will be the sixth-largest in history—exceeded only by the previous five—or that the national debt has ballooned by $3 trillion in that time. Today beheadings and racial tension grab the headlines. [...]

Instead of making the arguments for changing the law, the House budget used an off-budget fund, the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget, to increase military spending. [...]

There is no honest way to justify not paying for spending, no matter how often my fellow Republicans try.

Mulvaney is not wrong that the Republican party has selectively abandoned its fiscal principles, but from my perspective this is the least of all concerns.

I am not in favor of off-budget war funding the likes of which was used to put the Iraq war on the federal credit card, but I find the prospect of increased defense spending far less threatening that cutting Pell Grants, food stamps, and environmental protection by trillions of dollars. I find increased defense spending far less worrisome than combining Medicaid and CHIP into a single block-grant that would inevitably lead to millions of people (half of whom are children) losing their coverage.

Increased defense spending is not something I would welcome, but if I were going to call my party out for fiscal recklessness, transforming Medicare into a glorified coupon system would be at the top of the list. Doing so would undoubtedly lead to a crippling wave of medical bankruptcies, runaway costs, and early deaths.

Amazingly, these morally criminal and deplorable ideas are not what cost the Republican party the high ground according to Mulvaney.

Because of the hard decisions that defense hawks and deficit hawks had made together, Republicans were gaining the moral high ground on spending. Last week we lost it, and it will be harder to regain the next time.

You can't lose something you never had.

I will say Mulvaney's fiscal hawkery is surprising coming from a man who, as far as I can tell, has fighter jets or other military hardware on most of his campaign or promotional material, including his official House website.