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Rep. Paul Ryan: 'A lot of waste' in defense spending

I'm at the Peterson Foundation's Fiscal Summit today, and one of the big themes is "everything on the table." As part of that, Rep. Paul Ryan got asked about defense spending. "There are a lot of savings you can get in defense," he said. "There's a lot of waste over there, for sure."

By Ezra Klein  |  April 28, 2010; 10:04 AM ET
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Cutting defense spending is difficult. Just ask Donald Rumsfeld about the time he canceled the Crusader Artillery System.¬Found=true

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | April 28, 2010 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Right. It's one thing for Paul Ryan to say this.

It's another to say "I would vote to reduce purchases of weapon system X or the total number of USAF personnel, including contractors, by N, in order to control the deficit, and I would lobby my Republican colleagues to do the same." What do you think the chances are of that?

Posted by: NicholasBeaudrot | April 28, 2010 11:19 AM | Report abuse

You'll never never never NEVER be able to make substantial cuts to defense unless both parties are onboard and everyone involved pledges to not attack their opponents for "lowering our national defenses", "cutting funds for our troops", "opening us up to massive terrorist attacks..." etc. And the chances of that are obviously slim and none. We'd miss out on too many fun commercials with creepy grainy videos of Osama bin Laden and some ayotallahs.

Posted by: vvf2 | April 28, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse


You know I could say the same thing about my friends at the teachers union in NJ, the NJEA etc. They SAID they were all on board with doing whatever was necessary to resolve the budget issues when Govenor Christie came into office but when push came to shove older teachers were 100% against any sort of wage freeze and the younger teachers were all for it and in the end some teachers told the kids to tell their parents how to vote in the local school board elections including my 9 year old coming to me asking what all this was about.

Posted by: visionbrkr | April 28, 2010 11:54 AM | Report abuse

NicholasBeaudrot , exactly. Its easy to say there is waste. Its impossible to actually point to weapons systems, even ones designed for a land war in Europe which
-won't happen
-if it did happen, would be fought mostly by Europeans using their own weapons.
and say cut this. Close bases in Europe now that Germany is unified and the Russian threat is basically gone is a nonstarter. Shrinking the # of contractors and replacing them with soldiers (who are cheaper than contractors) won't happen. vvf2 is correct that it would need to be bipartisan (good luck with that) to keep the militarist crazies in check. It is a dismal picture.

Posted by: srw3 | April 28, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

When a politician talks about achieving savings by cutting "waste," this is just code that he or she would not make any structural changes to the budget.

Serious cuts in defense spending require bold adjustments in our defense policy, and for the reasons that vvf2 mentioned above, such bold proposals would not go politically unpunished in the current partisan atmosphere.

Posted by: Patrick_M | April 28, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

lets do what saint ronnie did. Just cut the overall defense budget (like reagan did with social programs) and let the generals decide where to save the money. Or do it like the base closing commission and force congress to vote up or down on cost savings proposals without being able to amend them.

Posted by: srw3 | April 28, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

I call on every news organization willing to, to swamp his office with request for any thing he thinks should be cut and by how much and then we can get Democrats to write a bill containg just these cuts and Republicans can then vote for it with a clean conscience!

Posted by: shadowgunmaninthedark | April 28, 2010 1:13 PM | Report abuse

Ending No-Bid defense contracts, Claw-back and No Bonuses to contractors like KBR/Halliburton - who electrocuted servicepersons - should be an Easy decision.

Ask those like Ryan about that specifically - I'll wait for the soundbite of "Ummm, Ummm, I don't know about that."

Deficit Hypocrites!!

Posted by: fair001 | April 28, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

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