Hugh Hewitt

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My Favorite Democratic Congressman

Friday, March 14, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Sure, it is a low bar, but Representative Tim Ryan is a Warren JFK Eagle, and he serves on the Subcommittee on Defense of the House Committee on Appropriations, so I was glad to have him on the program today to talk DOD as well as Obamacre and the minimum wage:




HH: Whether you’re in Hawaii or down in Florida, up in New York or way up in Alaska listening in now, my favorite Democrat. Actually, my favorite Democrat joins me now, Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio’s 13th Congressional District, which is my hometown. And Tim Ryan also happens to be a graduate of Warren’s John F. Kennedy High School, so my own high school. He is sadly a Democrat, but a smart one. Congressman, welcome, great to have you on the program.

TR: I appreciate the kind words. You know, we’ve got Blue Pride, and we’ll start from there and see where we can go.

HH: Yeah, go Eagles. And I want people to know, I actually have seen you talking to Republican before, whether Sam Covelli or Kim and Scott Phillips or Rob Ganary. You know Republicans, and you don’t, you deign to speak with them occasionally.

TR: I do. I hang out, I watch football with them, and you know, we talk a little politics here or there, but we try to stay focused on the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Cleveland Browns.

HH: And the Browns are having a good day today. But let’s focus on this hearing today. I just had your chairman on, Chairman Frelinghuysen, and talking about that committee hearing. And you had some pretty interesting comments in particular, Congressman Ryan, about Ukraine, natural gas and the Defense base. But let’s start overall. This isn’t enough money for the military. Do your colleagues on your side of the aisle recognize that?

TR: Well, we’ve got to balance a lot of different interests here. And the reality of it is we’re winding down two wars. I didn’t get to hear Chairman Frelinghuysen’s entire interview, but you know, we’re balancing, winding down Iraq, winding down Afghanistan. There’s a lot of uncertainty in Afghanistan right now. And I think this budget reflects us downsizing our responsibilities, at least the increased responsibilities we had in Iraq and in Afghanistan. And you know, it’s a tough budget time, and we’ve got a lot of people saying that we need to cut government back, and this is just a reflection of the political reality and the reality of winding down these wars.

HH: Now how many years have you been on Approps?

TR: I got on Approps in ’06 and I was on until ’10, and now I just got back on this year. So I’ve been on Appropriations for five years, and I was on Armed Services before that, back to 2003. Continue Reading

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What Sort Of A USMC Do You Want?

Thursday, March 13, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Today’s hearing before the Subcommittee on Defense of the House Committee on Appropriations will be very different than yesterday’s hearing before the House Armed Services Committee which focused on the force structure of the United States Marine Corps.  The constant attrition of forces across the board is crazy in this world, and the GOP has to point this out in the context of massive expenditures on transfer payments.  70% of the federal budget is talking money from some taxpayers and giving money to other people in the form of transfer payments.

This is the heart of the 2014 campaign: The federal government has to stop scooping money out of the private sector and giving it to entitlements while not fully funding the core duty of the federal government: providing for the common defense.

Chairman Frelinghuysen’s Task

Thursday, March 13, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

When Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey opens today’s hearing of the Subcommittee on Defense of the House Committee on Appropriations, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping will very much be in the room.

The Russian president has invaded a neighboring country and seized a huge chunk of it –for the second time in six years.  The Chinese president is presiding over a massive arms build-up –a 12.2%  increase in the PRC’s already substantial public budget was announced las week– and the PRC is taking increasingly hostile actions in the South China Sea. (Robert Kaplan’s Asia’s Cauldron: The South China Sea and the End of a Stable Pacific which arrived this week could not be more timely.)

The combination of the Murray-Ryan budget accord of late last year and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s incoherent defense budget has left the Subcommittee a very difficult job: Reintroducing reality to the military budget. Todd Harrison, an analyst  Harrison at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments provides some background on the Subcommittee’s dilemma, but the short version is this: We don’t know what the Joint Chiefs say we need to protect America, our allies, and the international waters through which commerce flows and by which freedom expands.

For three years now, since the infamous Super Committee and the “sequestration machine” that followed in its failure, the Pentagon has not been funded according to its needs but according to a formula imposed because of the failure of the president to deal seriously with the domestic spending mess, primarily as it connects to entitlements.  The president got his tax hike in January of 2013, but he did nothing to bring long-term domestic spending under control.  So the sequester mechanism kicked in, wrecking havoc on our national security budget.

A handful of neo-isolationist Republicans have combined with a handful of strategically-placed deficit hawks to pretend that the cuts to the military have not been that horrible, and are in fact necessary.  ”Waste, fraud, and abuse” is their combined rallying cry, but they do not represent the country.  The country spoke –very loudly and very clearly– when the Congress attempted to cu the retirement pay COLA earned by the active duty or recently retired military with an aim or a record of at least 20 years of service.  The Congress’s decision to target that group woke the sleeping giant of support for a strong American military and the men and women who serve in it, and very few elected officials missed the message of what awaits representatives or senators who try to balance the budget on the backs of the military.

The repeal of the cut to the COLA of the career military should not be mistaken for a repudiation of the GOP’ drive to reform entitlements.  It wasn’t.  The repeal was, however, a giant flashing sign that entitlement reform is not an excuse to gut the military further and that in fact the Regean coalition was built on three legs, one of which is peace through the strength provided by the world’s most competent and well-equipped military.  Canards about our budget being bigger than the next ten combined do not answer the question of what America’s military needs to do its job?  That’s the answer that should drive the budget and nothing else.  If the military’s many jobs add up to a budget 20 times larger than the next ten nations combined, so be it.  That is how the peace is maintained and would-be adversaries kept far and firmly at bay.

A corner in this debate has been turned and the Murray-Ryan budget accord overtaken by events, both political and international, especially because of Putin’s adventurism and the PRC’s growing threat.

It is up to Chairman Frelinghuysen and his colleagues to get some mission statements out of Secretary Hagel –do we intend to deter China from seizing more space and islands, keep international waterways open, respond to aggression against a NATO member or an ally like Japan?– and then ask Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Martin Dempsey if the Pentagon has the resources it needs to accomplish all the missions the secretary agreed to?  Dempsey is a straight shooter, and the Service chiefs are becoming increasingly candid that they are beyond cutting into bone but are now carving out marrow.  The cutting has to end and in fact be reversed.

This will require the Committee on Appropriations to bust the caps imposed by Murray-Ryan, and to do so only for Defense and to do so openly and with an argument as to why each specific increase is being funded.  Deficit hawks will scream, but Speaker Boehner and Leader Cantor should put the bill on the floor and vote on it and then send it to the Senate and see which members of both bodies want to face voters in the fall having shrunk from the challenges of Putin and the PRC.

The Party of Reagan is regaining its voice and now it needs some Members of Congress to do the same.  Starting Thursday.

Jamie Weinstein Solos

Wednesday, March 12, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

That’s not The Daily Caller’s Jamie Weinstein.  That’s Noah, or Russell Crowe playing Noah.  I will be at an advance screening of the film this afternoon, and The Daily Caller’s Jamie Weinstein will sit in for me for the first time.  He was a terrific co-host yesterday so enjoy his first time driving the big bus today.

Please also find a moment o visit the Memorial Fund to benefit Captain Reid Nannen’s children.  The USMC captain lost his life piloting a F-18 last week, and left a wonderful wife and four young children.  The response has been great but there is a way to go yet to fully fund the scholarship fund.

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