In the Vice Presidential debates on Thursday, GOP candidate Paul Ryan accused the Obama administration of supporting deep cuts to defense budgets, a fiction that is embarrassing for a congressman who in fact voted for the cuts he criticizes the administration for backing.
Defense budgets have grown exorbitantly in the decade since the attacks of September 11, 2001. Money spent on the military and national security has increased every year since then, and the Obama administration has been fighting tooth and nail certain sequestration cuts that merely slow the rate of growth in defense spending.
Ryan found himself in the awkward position of criticizing those sequestration cuts to defense which are automatic cuts that are supposed to take place if the Congress doesn’t pass a debt reduction bill.
“Now we have another $500 billion cut to defense that’s lurking on the horizon,” Ryan said, complaining about the sequestration cuts he himself helped implement into legislation.
Martha Radditz, who moderated the debate, asked then Ryan how a Romney administration would manage to keep taxes at current marginal rates and not increase the deficit while proposing $2 trillion in increases to defense spending over ten years.
Ryan dodged, switching back to sequestration cuts. “If these cuts go through, our Navy will be the smallest it has been since before World War I,” he said. “This invites weakness.”
Politifact fact-checked this statement about the Navy and concluded it was a lie, giving it a rating of “pants on fire.”
Biden defended the puny cuts in defense that may be imposed in the coming months, saying the military agrees budgets should be slimmed. “Look, the military says we need a smaller, leaner Army,” Biden said. “We don’t need more M1 tanks, what we need is more UAVs,” he added, referring to drones which illegally bomb people in secret, undeclared wars in territories that are not war zones.
In truth, the two candidates were debating within a very small spectrum. Both agree that the US should be spending more than a half a trillion dollars a year on defense – more than the rest of the world combined – and that our military should be big enough to span the entire globe in bases, wars, and US-armed client states.