Last week, Rep. Howard McKeon (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told the Daily Beast that he would support a tax increase rather than accept any further cuts in defense spending. McKeon is not a supercommittee member, but his remarks reflect the pressure from Republican hawks and defense contractors now being brought to bear.
This position seems remarkably shortsighted. First, the sequester would not go into effect until 2013, leaving Republicans with plenty of time to change the mix of domestic and defense cuts after the 2012 elections. But even if the cuts were to occur, they amount to just a bit more than 8 percent of expected defense spending over the next decade. With the U.S. spending more on its military than the rest of the world combined, does anyone really believe that if we stop protecting Germany from a Russian invasion, cancel weapon systems that don’t work, or reduce the number of generals and admirals populating the Pentagon, that al-Qaeda will come swarming across our border?
On the other hand, if we fail to revive our economy, that really does represent a threat to our national security. And the massive tax hikes envisioned by supercommittee Democrats would be devastating for future economic growth.