Missouri Congressman and Senate candidate, Todd Akin, worried about Defense in the debt ceiling deal
HH: Joined now by Congressman Todd Akin of Missouri, a very interesting Congressman, not because he’s got his MDiv or is a member of the PCA, or that he’s running for the United States Senate, though we’ll talk to him a lot about that. You can get involved in his campaign at www.akin.org, or that he’s even had three kids graduate from the Naval Academy. It’s because is the chairman of the subcommittee on Sea Power of the Armed Services Committee in the House, and they are going to be dealing with this deal/deficit cut for a long time. Congressman Akin, welcome to the Hugh Hewitt Show.
TA: It’s a pleasure to join you, Hugh.
HH: Now what was your reaction to the deal? Did you vote for it?
TA: No, I did not.
HH: Now that’s interesting. Tell me why you didn’t, and what are these cuts going to do to our national defense?
TA: Well, you obviously picked out the first reason I didn’t vote for it, because it’s going to decimate the Defense budget. But the second reason, being an engineer, and they probably shouldn’t allow them in Congress, it doesn’t really solve the problem. We have a structural problem with radical deficit spending, and the only solution that I have ever heard of that works is what most of the states do, and that’s a balanced budget amendment, and actually index the size of the governmental along with a balanced budget. And of course, what we’re doing is we’re just sort of pretending everything is going to be okay on the back of Defense. And so two reasons – one, it was destructive to our national security, and two, it didn’t really solve the problem.
HH: Well, let’s talk a little bit about that national security aspect, Congressman. I’ve got Jonathan Chait of the New Republic coming up after you, and I’m sure he likes the deal. But I keep looking at, I think it’s $350 billion in cuts already, and as much as another $600 billion out of the next ten years down the road. How bad a hit did Defense take yesterday?
TA: Hugh, I read it the same way you did. $350 billion over ten years, $600 billion, possibly, in the next sort of piece of it. That comes out to just about a trillion, or dividing it by ten, $100 billion per year. Now $100 billion is a lot of money, so what does that mean? Well, the entire Navy shipbuilding budget is about $15 billion.
TA: So you’ve, obviously, you kind of wipe out the whole shipbuilding budget totally. They are, and it’s only 15 out of 100. Let’s figure something bigger. How about the Marine Corps? Well, the whole Marine Corps is less than $100 billion. So you can get rid of the Marine Corps. These types of cuts are really draconian. Now let’s put this in context. If you take a look at the number of, or the size of the military in 1990, and probably your listeners may know this, Hugh, 1990 to the present. Look at it in macro numbers – number of people in uniform, number of ships, and number of aircraft. Almost, we’re just barely over 50% of where we were in 1990, so we’re half. The number of ships we have is about the number of ships we had in 1916.
HH: It’s about 283, is it not, Congressman?
TA: I believe that’s correct.
HH: Yeah, we can’t be a superpower. The People’s Republic of China is surging a blue water navy.
TA: You’re right. You’re right. We don’t have, even now, before these cuts, we don’t have the capability of doing some of the things that are in our plans that in case this happens, we’re going to do this, that or the other thing. Well, the end case scenarios that we’re supposed to be prepared for, we’re not preparing for them anymore. And so instead of letting our Defense budget be driven based on what we think the requirements might be, we just let it be one of the scapegoats for the budget.
HH: Well now, this supercommittee that has been convened has all this authority. Do you know yet who from the House is going to be on there, and will they be Defense-minded?
TA: That’s a good question, and I don’t know. And I will comment, too, that we’ve seen something that’s a little troubling if we get into a vote on this subject, Hugh. We’ve had several votes where Armed Services people on the committee are recommending we do a particular thing, and the new generation, the freshmen Republicans, tend to be good conservatives when it comes to cutting, but they’re not very discriminate. And we’ve lost a number of votes on Defense funding, because the new breed of conservatives are not like the old ones. If you’d said before, hey, Todd, give me 20 of the most conservative guys in the House, I’d line up all 20 of them, and every single one would be a Defense hawk. The new people are not. And so holding Defense, trying to hold the line and not cutting Defense is going to be very hard with the makeup of the Congress right now.
HH: About 30 seconds left, Congressman, you’re running for Senate, www.akin.org. If people want to help you out in Missouri, they can contribute, they can get on board.
TA: That’s great, Hugh, yeah.
HH: How big of an issue will Defense be against Claire McCaskill?
TA: Well, I think probably most of our discussions will be focused on the economics. She voted, for instance, for the mother of all earmarks, that $787 billion dollar “stimulus” bill?
TA: That’s going to be a hard one for her to sell to the Missouri public. And of course, socialized medicine under Obama is going to be hard to sell, too.
HH: We will check back throughout the course of the campaign, Congressman Todd Akin. Thank you so much for joining us from Missouri, www.akin.org
End of interview.