Rep. Buck McKeon is a friend of the military. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that out. As head of the House Armed Services Committee, he has drawn a line in the sand about cuts to the military budget. As much as any politician out there, he’s made it his business to learn the business of the military. And he understands completely their vital role in our national security. He’s personally involved. And he gets a bit emotional when he thinks about the disastrous cuts that may be in the offing if the SuperCommittee doesn’t do its job. Or, its just as possible that the SuperCommittee might come up with even deeper cuts itself.
McKeon isn’t about to take any of that lying down:
If the Super Committee or anybody else in America wants to know how important keeping faith with the troops is to Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, all they need do is watch the webcast of today's readiness hearing.
They will see a fairly rare occurrence: one of the top defense lawmakers near tears, choked with emotion-- as he speaks about ensuring troops are paid decently, trained well and aren't jerked around on their pensions.
Excepting House Speaker John Boehner, I don't think I've ever seen a professional politician react with such genuine emotion -- and certainly not on a defense issue. But McKeon's reaction, watched in real time, was clearly unplanned and heartfelt. He spoke at the end of a hearing about readiness,called to signal the Super Committee and other interested parties about why defense cuts beyond the $450 billion already planned over the next 10 years, would be parlous.
Its good to have a man like that in the Chairman’s chair.
As we’ve learned over the decades cutting military spending is always the easiest and, in the long run, most expensive thing we can do.
It’s easy because less than 1% of voters are effected and not all of them. It’s easy because its discretionary spending and politicians can pretend like they’re actually taking action on the deficit while leaving the long-term entitlement problem to fester.
It ends up being expensive because we let the military degrade when we cut its budget. And then at some point in the future we wake up and realize the weakened position we’ve put ourselves in and that fuels a very expensive re-building effort. We’ve done all that a few times. You’d think we’d learn. Each time we’re told we just don’t need the military we have and each time we’ve rebuilt it back to similar levels because the realities of the world situation have again demanded it.
No one can really argue that we don’t need the force we have today, given the present world situation. Yet we’re seeing all sorts of plans produced to cut deeply into the force structure and armaments of the military. With a national election next year there is a need for politicians to be seen doing something to address the mess they’ve spent us into. And, as usual, the military is a big, fat easy target.
When I see talk like this I’m always reminded of Rudyard Kipling’s “Tommy”:
You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool -- you bet that Tommy sees!
Thanks to the Buck McKeons of the world and those like him (to include Adam Smith, his Democratic counterpart). He gets it. And to those who can’t quite figure it out; who continue to think that national security is something to be toyed with; who want to spend money on social engineering instead of defense engineering; they’re playing a fool’s game.
If we want “Tommy” to be the “savior of ‘is country” we better darn well be sure “Tommy” has what he needs to fight in any type of combat environment, from high intensity to low, and in any part of the world that our national security demands. And we need to make sure he has the best weaponry and support we can produce for him (and her).
If we don’t do that, we’re the “bloomin’ fool”.