Some Republicans Beginning To Question Military Budget

01/31/11 Robert Lorei
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Good morning, welcome to Radioactivity. I'm Rob Lorei. Coming up - some Republicans are joining the effort to scrutinize wasteful federal spending. We're joined now by Robert Dreyfuss, a writer for The Nation magazine who's article on the topic is in this week's Nation magazine.

In the article Dreyfuss writes:

'In 2001, in a profile of Grover Norquist I wrote for The Nation, the conservative activist and president of Americans for Tax Reform proclaimed that he’d like to shrink the government “down to the size where we can drown it in a bathtub.” It now appears that Norquist—with a growing alliance of libertarians, deficit hawks and traditional old-style conservatives—wants to make sure the Pentagon and its generals end up in that bathtub, too.

'For years only a hardy band of liberals in Congress—the Progressive Caucus, the Black Caucus and individuals like Representative Barney Frank—challenged the bloated military budget. The Republicans, ignoring President Eisenhower’s warning fifty years ago about the military-industrial complex, always gave the Pentagon what it wanted and more, gleefully bashing Democrats as weak-kneed on national security. Since the fall, however, a civil war of sorts has broken out among Republicans over defense, with the dissident faction led by Norquist, the libertarian Cato Institute and a growing group of allies, including some factions of the rambunctious Tea Party movement, backing significant cuts.

'According to a well-known conservative activist, in early January House majority leader Eric Cantor quietly circulated to the entire GOP caucus a letter organized by Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) that called for the Pentagon’s budget to be put on the chopping block. “We write to urge you to institute principled spending reform that rejects the notion that spending cuts can be avoided in certain parts of the federal budget,” said the letter, written in November to Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and incoming House Speaker John Boehner.

'Department of Defense spending, in particular, has been provided protected status that has isolated it from serious scrutiny.” The letter was signed by twenty-three people, a Who’s Who of the conservative movement, including Norquist, David Keene of the American Conservative Union, Cato’s Christopher Preble, Richard Viguerie, Al Regnery of The American Spectator and many others. Also signing were Lisa Miller of Tea Party WDC and Matt Kibbe of FreedomWorks, the pro–Tea Party organization led by former House majority leader Dick Armey. That Cantor, who has advocated cutting the military budget, sent ATR’s letter around was seen as a shot across the bow of Republicans who consider that budget a “sacred cow,” as ATR called it.'

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