For the last two weeks Mitt Romney’s campaign has incessantly attacked President Obama for the cuts to defense spending mandated by the agreement he made with Congress to lift the debt ceiling last year. Romney and his surrogates blame Obama, instead of their fellow Republicans in Congress, for this turn of events, and claim it will damage America’s national security. They are also playing hypocritical politics, and violating their own supposed principles, by complaining that the cuts will cost jobs in swing states such as Virginia. Here’s a sampling of their statements:
§ Mitt Romney, in his speech Tuesday to the VFW: “We are just months away from an arbitrary, across-the-board budget reduction that would saddle the military with a trillion dollars in cuts, severely shrink our force structure, and impair our ability to meet and deter threats.”
§ Senator Jim Talent (R-MO) on a Romney campaign conference call: “They’re planning to cut 200,000 troops. Given the state of the economy, it’s equivalent to laying them off and the military is sending them to the unemployment lines.… at a time when Iran is making progress towards a nuclear weapon, Syria is in the middle of a civil war, Chinese power is surging, we have men and women fighting and putting their lives at risk in the field in Afghanistan. So in all my years in and around Washington, it’s the most irresponsible thing a Commander-in-Chief has done.”
§ Tea Party hero and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in a Romney campaign statement: “For President Obama to play budgetary Russian roulette with national defense is shameful. The damage to our local economy here in Virginia will be enormous. But the damage to our national security is what really counts.”
§ Representative Scott Rigell (R-VA), in a statement for the Romney campaign: “The President must address—directly and decisively—the massive, violent reduction in defense spending that is headed our way. Pink slips are looming, Virginia will be reeling come January, and our Commander in Chief is eerily silent on this issue. That, in my opinion, is a breach of his duty as head of our armed forces.
§ Romney surrogate Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) said on CNN: “I’m worried not only about jobs in Virginia, but I’m worried about the security of the United States of America.”
As conservative Ramesh Ponnuru points out in a Bloomberg View column, Republicans are making a big-government Keynesian argument for defense spending, that it’s a necessary public employment program. They utterly reject this logic if applied to, say, retaining public school teachers or police officers. “The Republican position on federal spending could not be clearer: It doesn’t create jobs. Except when it goes to defense contractors,” writes Ponnuru.