Mitt Romney’s choice for VP was a clear play to more conservative causes and the world knows that. That’s fine, one typically does this during an election to help bolster a gap and connect with a broader base. For example, McCain selected Sarah Palin to balance out his wealth of experience, reasonable thinking, and intelligence. Paul Ryan not only represents a more consistent conservative voice on social issues, but also on fiscal ones.
Next to the economy, the budget is probably one of the most important topics on the minds of voters in this election cycle. And Paul Ryan has some serious credibility there. He proposed a budget (that has basically gone nowhere but that wasn’t the point) that over the long term seeks to balance itself. The budget makes all sorts of changes to Social Security, Medicare, and most regular spending. What it doesn’t touch, or barely touches, is defense.
And this is a common theme among conservative politicians: don’t touch defense. In a time where Republicans want tax cuts and a balanced budget the idea that defense is a non-starter might seem confusing. This happened just this week with Romney.
But if you think back to the one time you read part of the Constitution you might see what they’re talking about. The preamble makes it pretty clear what the government should be doing:
We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
This is a clearly defined role of government as set out by our Constitution. Things like the Department of Education, EPA, and unemployment insurance are interpreted from less clearly defined elements like ” insure domestic tranquility” and “promote the general welfare” and therefore are not safe from Republican budgets like defense is.
No whether you agree with the spending priorities of a Republican or not is not the point of this post. That debate could go one for years.
What bothers me about the refusal to discuss defense cuts as a part of a deficit reduction plan is the lack of a clearly defined role of our military. No matter how strong our military is, one could always argue it could be stronger. So the question for a Republican that doesn’t believe in defense cuts is: how much is too much? The official budget signed in October of 2009 allocated $680 billion to defense. So is $750 billion too much? $850 billion?
Republicans arguing against defense cuts have never outlined what the actual role of our military is. Nor have they explained how much we should be spending on it. More is better, less is unacceptable.
I don’t pretend to know what the magic number is. I’m with Republicans though, we need to curb government spending. But Republicans need to define the military’s role clearly and craft a budget around that. To refuse to discuss defense cuts on a philosophical perspective of the Constitution is unacceptable.