by Sen. Rand Paul 25 Mar 2014, 10:39 AM PDT
National Defense is the most important job of the Federal Government, one that can't be done elsewhere.
I believe in a strong national defense. I believe in Ronald Reagan’s policy of "Peace through Strength." I believe there are many ways to achieve savings in all aspects of our budget, including the Pentagon. But for America to remain strong and at peace, we must cut smartly and from the right places.
In the current budget, the Obama Administration called for the elimination of the Tomahawk missile. This missile protects our troops and allows us to avoid much direct person-to-person combat. Our navy has depended heavily on them.
Now President Obama wants to get rid of them rather than do the harder work of finding the waste and fraud in our bloated Pentagon bureaucracy. This is a mistake and will weaken our defenses.
Obama’s fiscal year budget for 2015 would make significant cuts to the Tomahawk program and would eliminate it completely by 2016. There are reportedly no plans to replace it with another comparable weapon, or any weapon, for that matter.
If President Obama had plans for next-generation weaponry that might take the place of Tomahawks that would be one thing, but giving up such an essential combat tool without such a plan is dangerous and quite frankly, baffling.
Nobody wants to cut spending, including Pentagon waste and abuse, more than me. I agree with former Chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen who has said that the greatest threat to our national security is the national debt.
But I don’t want to cut weapons that have been integral to maintaining a strong military.
We should retain our strength and strategic advantages while looking for ways to reform the Pentagon and cut waste.
Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has identified nearly $70 billion in waste--everything from studying flying dinosaurs to making beef jerky--that somehow qualifies as Department of Defense spending. The $128 million President Obama plans to cut next year from the Tomahawk program could easily be replaced by cutting some of this $70 billion we are wasting right now.
Tomahawk missiles keep us strong, while beef jerky does not.
I’ve also sponsored an Audit the Pentagon bill. Not just to cut needless spending, but because dollars allocated for defense purposes should actually be used to defend our country.
We can have a better military and a better defense, including all the weaponry our armed forces need, if we learn how to cut waste, fraud, and abuse, and end our nation building overseas.
Our priority should be defending our country, not policing others.
President Obama refuses to confront both waste and bad strategic choices of recent years, and instead focuses on a weapons program with a proven track record. It just doesn’t make sense.
America should be a country that is always reluctant to go to war and that only goes to war constitutionally through a declaration by Congress. But if the time comes when our security or interests are threatened, the United States must always be ready to fight and win, decisively and quickly.
You would expect the President of the United States to understand this, but in jettisoning the Tomahawk program, he clearly doesn’t.
I have chastised those in my party who treat Pentagon spending as sacrosanct in the same way many Democrats view domestic spending as untouchable. With a $17 trillion national debt, both parties must give up the notions that any spending is sacrosanct.
But those cuts must be smart cuts. Reckless Washington spending shouldn’t now be replaced by reckless cuts.