Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Monday suggested using drastic cuts to health care for the poorest Americans to fund the Department of Defense.
Speaking to employees of BAE Systems, one of the nation's largest defense contractors, the candidate said that President Barack Obama and members of the "super committee" should agree to scale back the Medicaid program in order to prevent $600 billion in cuts to defense spending over ten years.
"A doomsday scenario for our military is not the right course, given where the world is headed," Romney remarked. "I would call on the president -- and do call on the president -- to immediately introduce legislation which says we will not have a $600 billion cut to America's military. We should not cut any funding from our base Department of Defense budget. That should not occur."
"And I would apply the $600 billion [in cuts] that were anticipated being imposed upon the military, I would take those and apply them to other parts of the federal budget," he continued. "And there are a number of candidates for that. One of them, of course, would be to take something like Medicaid, which is our health care program for the poor, and return that program to the states."
Since President Barack Obama took office, the defense budget has actually grown from $513 billion to $530 billion, according to The Associated Press. Additional spending on wars in Iraq and Afghanistan has increased from $153 billion to $159 billion.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates (PDF) that the total base defense budget will increase to $665 billion by 2028 if there are no cuts. Because the triggered cuts are spread over a 10-year period, overall defense spending would still grow each year, albeit at a slower rate.