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Hey GOP: Where’s The Budget? Specifically, Where’s The Defense Budget?

Saturday, February 7, 2015  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Republicans swept to a massive win in November –three months ago– and the most urgent issues facing the country have to do with national security, specifically military preparedness.

To begin to fix the nation’s defense requires a robust hike in defense spending directed primarily towards weaponry and retention of the best of the all-volunteer force.  The Navy especially needs a crash program to get to its minimum necessary strength, and the Marine Corps needs to be lifted back to its war-fighting preparedness levels of the middle of the last decade.

The president put forth one budget in his generally absurdist budget last week, and its recommendations for Defense provide a baseline for the GOP Congress.  Here’s how analysts working for Forbes described the defense budget:

The budget proposes an increase in the overall defense budget by about 4% to $585.2 billion in fiscal 2016, from $560.3 billion in the current fiscal year. However, the base defense budget in this overall budget has been proposed to grow at a much higher rate, as the allocation for overseas contingency operations has been proposed to decline to $50.9 billion, from $64.2 billion. The decline in OCO was expected, as troops continue to withdraw from Afghanistan. After accounting for this decline in OCO, the base defense budget, which includes military personnel and procurement costs, has been proposed to grow by a whopping $38 billion or 7.7% in the fiscal year 2016. A further breakdown of various items in the base defense budget shows that the military personnel budget is expected to rise by a modest 2%. So the real jump in the proposed base defense budget is being driven by weapons procurement, which has been proposed to grow by over 14%.

The GOP Congress is going to have to do more than this of course, because most Republicans want the American forces in Afghanistan maintained at around 10,000 troops, and the GOP will also support a far more robust American component in the anti-ISIS coalition in and around Baghdad and neighboring countries.  The GOP knows better to than to skimp on military pay and benefits again and most of its members have promised to reverse the cut to military benefits jammed through at the end of 2014.  Procurement –especially of the surface combatant ships necessary to support a fleet of at least 11 carrier groups– has to accelerate and almost certainly a budget line has to be created now for the replacement of the 14 Ohio-class SSBNs, which are the backbone of the nation’s nuclear deterrent.

To get to a real Department of Defense budget requires an appropriations bill from the House Committee on Appropriations –Chairman Hal Rogers– which must first come out of the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations, the GOP members of which are:

Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)

Kay Granger (R-TX)

Ander Crenshaw (R-FL)

Ken Calvert (R-CA)

Tom Cole (R-OK)

Steve Womack (R-AR)

Robert Aderholt (R-AL)

John Carter (R-TX)

Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL)

Tom Graves (R-GA)

In the Senate, the Chair of Senate Appropriations is Thad Cochran of Mississippi, and the Republican members of the Subcommittee on Defense Appropriations are:

Thad Cochran, Subcommittee Chair

Mitch McConnell Kentucky

Richard C. Shelby Alabama

Lamar Alexander Tennessee

Susan Collins Maine

Lisa Murkowski Alaska

Lindsey Graham South Carolina

Roy Blunt Missouri

Steve Daines Montana

Jerry Moran Kansas

The theoretical timetable for the budget process is here, but dysfunction in D.C. brought about by Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi have screwed this process up badly year after year, and sequestration has brought about a genuine crisis.  House Budget Chair Tom Price (R-GA) and Senate Budget Chair Mike Enzi (R-WY) can break this recent history of dysfunction by moving rapidly to get a budget through both chambers –the president does not need to sign the Congressional budget resolution– and that agreement will set the cap for the DoD spending which the House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees on Defense must then work within to get an appropriations bill to the president. (That cap really has to anticipate the need for the SSBN replacement spending.)  All along the way the House and Senate Armed Services Committees are providing authorization for various programs and policies which blend into this process, but the immediate need is not for a ballet of egos and authorities to be perfectly executed, but for the DoD to get the funds its needs to begin the rebuild.

In fact, the GOP House and Senate leadership, the Budget chairmen and their committees, the Appropriations Defense Subcommittees and their full committee chairmen, and the Armed Services chairmen and their committees can agree on the budget as soon as they want and begin crafting the Defense appropriations bill in detail now so that upon passage of the Budget resolution it is ready to move quickly through the chambers and to the president’s desk.

Seriousness on the most serious subject is long overdue in D.C.  Each of these key members have to get to the pressing work of staving off further devastating cuts in America’s military and must do so quickly.  The would-be nominees of the GOP in 2016 have to master these details and push and pull these key members along.  Staffs have to be told this is not a “business-as-usual-year” and Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader McConnell have to work even more overtime to get military back on a steady, sane path to a fully armed military staffed by the best professional force in history.  That is job number one of the new Congress.  A lot of headlines obscure this fact, but the news of the past week underscores it.  Clarity from the leadership onthis priority and a timetable would be a wonderful thing to hear in the next couple of weeks.

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NBC’s Chuck Todd On The President’s Prayer Breakfast Remarks

Friday, February 6, 2015  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Meet The Press host Chuck Todd joined me on Friday’s show to discuss Sunday’s program and the president’s National Prayer Breakfast remarks Thursday:

Audio:

02-06hhs-todd

Transcript:

HH: I’m joined now as I am on most Fridays when I’m lucky by Chuck Todd, host of Meet The Press. Hello, Chuck.

CT: How are you doing, Hugh?

HH: I’m terrific. Chuck, I have been in a broadcast organization for 26 years, and sometimes, some of my friends and colleagues get in the middle of media meltdowns. And it’s always been my policy never to comment on that when it’s going on. So I’m not going to ask you to comment on Brian Williams. I have just one question, though, about Meet the Press tomorrow. Do you cover the story or don’t you on Sunday?

CT: No, I don’t think so, and I’ll tell you why. I mean, I think that when it comes to this story, there’s a lot of strong opinions out there, and I think right now, considering the, you know, you want to, I think no matter what, people will be skeptical how we would cover it. So I think in this case, better not to.

HH: Okay, good call.

CT: And yeah, and I think, and look, I mean, I think it’s up to Brian right now.

HH: Good.

CT: I think it’s up to him to, I think he should be the next person to talk.

HH: Yeah, I never cover stories about my colleagues when they are in the middle of a media firestorm.

CT: No. Continue Reading

Charles Krauthammer On The President’s Prayer Breakfast Remarks And Brian Williams

Friday, February 6, 2015  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer joined me on today’s show to discuss yesterday’s National Prayer Breakfast ramble by President Obama and the controversy surrounding NBC’s Brian Williams:

Audio:

02-06hhs-krauthammer

Transcript:

HH: To discuss this, the President’s Prayer Breakfast, Brian Williams and many other things, I am joined by Washington Post columnist, Charles Krauthammer, whose amazing book, Things That Matter, continues to sell and sell and sell. It’s a great Valentine’s Day gift, in fact. Charles, it would be really depressing to me since I have a book coming out in 2015 if you sold more books in 2015 than I do.

CK: Well, if you are going to use it as a Valentine’s gift, make sure it gets watered at least once a day.

HH: Well, I want to begin by something you wrote today in the Washington Post about the President and his approach. It really is not serious with regards to what is going on in the world and what he intends to try and elicit from ISIS. He’s just not, for Obama, this is his ticket to Mt. Rushmore, you write, but it really isn’t, because it’s not serious.

CK: Well, it’s serious in the sense that there is an underlying logic. They won’t say it, but it’s become very clear that the overall strategy in the Middle East from day one has been Obama seeking some grand bargain, some rapprochement, some Nixon to China agreement where Iran, as he said to NPR, gets legitimized as a major regional power, begins, accommodates itself with us, is given by us, who have been the dominant power, since Henry Kissinger kicked the Soviets out in the early 1970s, makes them sort of the co-hegemon for the region, which has completely driven our allies, the Gulf Arabs, Jordanians and the Israelis, and the Egyptians, around the bend. This is a total reversal, and it’s sort of sacrificing them. Once you see that, then everything else makes sense. You see Obama rushing for any kind of agreement for nuclear power. And then when you look on the ground, apart from the nuclear agreement is Iran, Iran is now the dominant element in four Arab capitals, which you know, Baghdad, Damascus, in of course Lebanon in Beirut, and now just a few hours ago, the Houthi rebels announced that they were going to ignore a nine power agreement to share power in Yemen, and they’re going to take over. And then there is Hezbollah. Continue Reading

“Flash: World Falling Apart. U.S. Responds… How?” By Clark S. Judge

Friday, February 6, 2015  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The weekly column from Clark Judge:

Flash: World Falling Apart. U.S. Responds… How?
By Clark S. Judge: managing director, White House Writers Group, Inc.; chairman, Pacific Research Institute.

Morning reports have it that German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Francois Hollande are, as I write, flying to Moscow. Their mission: to head off what the London Telegraph terms a “total war” between Russia and Ukraine (http://bit.ly/merkel2Putin) that could draw in Western Europe and the United States.

The paper reports “tensions are running high” in the region. After a long period of indecision, the U.S. is now on the verge of providing arms to embattled Ukraine. Meanwhile in the past week, the recently retired secretary general of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, warned that the Russian aggressiveness toward its neighbor “is not about Ukraine. [Russian president Vladimir] Putin wants to restore Russia to its former position as a great power.” Continue Reading

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