Obama to GOP: I'll veto your budget if you try to cut ... defense

In fairness, Gates did say yesterday that the Pentagon can’t do its job this year with cuts of more than $9 billion. The GOP wants to cut $15 billion, but to soften that, the plan is to attach a full military appropriations bill to the continuing resolution that’ll fund the government for the rest of the year. According to the Times, that appropriations bill would give Gates some flexibility in moving money around so the extra $6 billion in cuts won’t necessarily torpedo any key programs. Bear in mind, this is all in the context of trying to reduce a $1.5 trillion annual deficit, with trillions and trillions more in new debt to be incurred over the next decade under Obama’s own proposed budget. It’s a drop in a reservoir-sized bucket.

But as we know, Obama’s chief goal in dealing with federal spending is to make himself look good at the expense of the GOP before next year’s election. That’s why Republicans are being forced to take the lead on entitlements, and that’s why we’re now witnessing the surreal spectacle of a liberal Democrat scolding conservatives for being insufficiently pro-Pentagon. Defending the defense budget not only earns him C-in-C points, it’s a clever way to signal to the public that the GOP’s relatively modest $100 billion in cuts is outrageously outrageous, so out comes the veto pen.

[T]he suggestion that Republicans risked hurting the nation’s defense amounts to an especially hardball political response designed to play on divisions in the GOP over the level of Pentagon cuts.

“The bill proposes cuts that would sharply undermine core government functions and investments key to economic growth and job creation and would reduce funding for the Department of Defense to a level that would leave the department without the resources and flexibility needed to meet vital military requirements,” the statement read. “If the president is presented with a bill that undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions, contains earmarks or curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation while continuing to burden future generations with deficits, the president will veto the bill.”

Yes, please don’t send him a bill that burdens future generations. You know how he hates that. Remember, it was The One’s own Joint Chiefs chairman who said, “The most significant threat to our national security is our debt.” To the extent that his budget proposal would see that debt explode, he’s exacerbating a mortal national security threat. Even his own party is starting to lay into him for his unseriousness about it. Yet here he is tut-tutting the GOP about not taking the Pentagon’s responsibilities seriously enough — because of a $15 billion difference. Okay then.

For your viewing pleasure, via Mediaite, here’s Pelosi explaining how the GOP’s cuts prove that they don’t care about women or children or puppies or the Snuggles bear. Exit question: Now that Obama’s gone to the mat over just $15 billion in defense spending, where does that leave the left’s ancient belief that if we simply start cutting defense — which is mostly waste anyway, don’tcha know — our fiscal troubles will be over?