It's a reminder that when Republicans block domestic spending on areas like extended unemployment insurance, what we're seeing is a reflection of priorities -- the already-enormous Pentagon budget is important (even if it means funding programs the Defense Department doesn't want) and struggling families aren't.
It's also a reminder that Republican talk about fiscal responsibility is a shallow scam. Putting aside the fact that GOP interest in the issue is quite new -- these are, after all, the same Republican officials who added $5 trillion to the debt in just eight years -- it's also incredibly narrow. They want to reduce the deficit, but if you raise the prospect of tax increases, now that tax rates are at their lowest rates since the days of Harry Truman, they balk. They want to get spending under control, but if you even mention modest cuts to the breathtaking Pentagon budget, the GOP looks for a fainting couch.
Meanwhile, with European countries embracing austerity measures, what's on the chopping block? Their defense budgets, of course. Prominent conservative voices like to say that we should do what Greece and others in Europe are doing, and look to scale back dramatically, but they're apparently hoping we don't pay too close attention to the kind of measures getting cut.
Continuing the discussion in Bruce Bartlett's post, there's a good thread of comments making the point that cutting defense does not automatically equate to reducing national security interests. There's no question that we could cut back on acquisition projects, eliminate more bases, consolidate military logistics, medical and transportation functions, let the State Dept do nation-building and partner coalition efforts. There's no forcing mechanism right now, because Congress has no appetite suppressant. But we knew that.
We're rapidly getting into a situation where the United States will have the most expensive fighting machine that cannot afford to take any losses, because it will have inadequate numbers of people to actually do the fighting. Then Skynet comes into the picture, the world blows up, and no one wants that to happen, right?