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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 08/24/2012

Republicans take on defense sequestration

Yesterday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) took on President Obama over defense sequestration. In North Carolina, as Politico reported, Ryan was on the attack:

Speaking south of Fort Bragg military base here, Paul Ryan said the White House should “put up or shut up” and lay out just how painful the sequester will be.
“The House has already passed, as well as the Senate, which has now been finally signed into law, bipartisan legislation saying, ‘Put up or shut up,’ ” Ryan told more than 100 people here. “The president needs to show us how he plans on putting this in place if he is not going to help us pass legislation preventing it in the first place, so we’re now waiting for that answer.”

Ryan voted for the debt ceiling bill that gave birth to the supercommittee with the defense sequestration “trigger,” but he said that it was “the president and his party leaders that insisted on this makeup, this formula. Defense spending is not half of all federal spending, but it’s half of the cuts approximately in the sequester. We disagreed with that then, and we disagree with it now.”

Let’s take a step back. First, Mitt Romney opposed the debt ceiling bill, and to his credit, he cited the potential cuts to defense. So in debating President Obama, Romney has the high ground.

Second, if Republicans are guilty of anything, it is political naivete. In the supercommittee, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) put forward a plan that included additional revenue. The Democrats never responded. They never, I think it is safe to assume, had any intention of making a deal and welcomed the defense cuts.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) on Fox last night said he simply cast a bad vote in supporting the debt ceiling bill. (Ryan should fess up as well.) But, McCain added, he, Ryan and other Republicans have tried to fix the problem by coming up with an alternative set of cuts. The president won’t respond, insisting that he isn’t going to save the military from “devastating” cuts to national security unless Republicans cough up a tax increase.

This is one of the few instances in which Romney is to the right of Ryan. Perhaps being far from Congress, he escaped the pressure of the moment to pass “something” and wisely objected to the “trigger” that turned out to be an incentive for Democrats. However we got where we are, Republicans are willing to solve the problem; the president is not. The pink slips to defense contract employee may go out soon. The Romney-Ryan ticket has every right to point the finger at the president, who could, if he wanted to, prevent the cuts and the layoffs. Come the fall he might decide to do just that.

By  |  12:00 PM ET, 08/24/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign, Budget, National Security

 
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