Republicans Fighting To Expand The Pentagon’s Already Bloated Budget While Still Cutting Food Stamps

If there’s one thing Republicans love above all else, it’s throwing billions of taxpayer dollars at the Pentagon. It sucks away money from all those pesky domestic programs they despise (like feeding hungry children), does very little to improve the economy, and allows for endless wars all over the world.

The question facing Republicans right now is how to give the Pentagon even MORE money and how to get around the 2011 Sequester to do it:

In a 2011 deficit showdown, President Obama and Congressional Republicans agreed to severe budget cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years that would apply to both domestic and defense programs.

This Congress seems content to leave undisturbed the mandated cuts for domestic programs, many of which affect the poor and middle class, but Republicans as well as some Democrats are now seeking a hefty increase of as much as $100 billion in Pentagon spending from a base budget of $499 billion. The question is whether to do it honestly or not: whether to engage in a straightforward exercise that would require honestly confronting the 2011 budget agreement; or whether to pump more money into the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations account, or O.C.O.

Mind you, these are the same Republicans that grind their teeth over spending money on food stamps. Just to give you idea of how “expensive” food stamps are, since 1969, we’ve spent 1.035 trillion dollars on feeding hungry Americans. That sounds like a huge amount of money until you recall the following line: “Republicans as well as some Democrats are now seeking a hefty increase of as much as $100 billion in Pentagon spending from a base budget of $499 billion.”

In just two years, we’ve spent more on war than we have in half a century of feeding hungry children, the elderly, the disabled, and the poor. But, you know, America is broke and we can’t afford more spending. Unless it’s for bombs and bullets. Then the sky’s the limit and it doesn’t matter how much of it is waste or fraud.

As we all know, one of the right wing’s most overused ploys is to insist that social safety net programs that have even the slightest touch of waste or fraud must be shut down completely. But when faced with the well documented graft and corruption in the military-industrial complex, they shrug their shoulders and complain about Obamacare.

And to their credit, the NYT’s Editorial Board calls the “fiscally responsible” Republicans out on this blinding hypocrisy:

Yet those who argue for funneling billions more to the Pentagon stand on very shaky ground when billions of dollars have been squandered on troubled weapons like the F-35 fighter jet, when billions more have been lost to waste and corruption in Afghanistan, and when the budget proposals from both Mr. Obama and Congress waste billions more on an overgrown nuclear arsenal.

Even worse, Republicans are so eager to go to war, they’re ignoring every other avenue to conflict resolution:

Meanwhile, Congress has consistently refused to finance the State Department at the level needed to show a commitment to robust diplomacy through its staff, embassies and programs promoting democracy, trade, and the resolution of numerous conflicts around the world.

The dirty little secret of the Benghazi “scandal” is that Republicans voted to cut funding for security for embassies. Who needs diplomacy and security when you can just launch missiles and kill everyone?

So it’s clear that Republicans really want that extra military spending. The real fight in the GOP is if they should use the O.C.O as a permanent slush fund for eternal war or if they should end the military part of the Sequester while leaving the domestic cuts in place. The slush fund is easier for Republicans because, as the Times puts it, it’s “an off-budget fund that allows them to increase defense spending and break the caps they agreed to while insisting that they remain as fiscally upright as ever.”

No one pays attention to the O.C.O. Chances are you’ve never even heard of it and have already forgotten what the acronym stands for. This is similar to how George W. Bush “hid” the costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He kept them off the official budget and pushed for “emergency spending.” Can’t have the American people know how much money they’re wasting on war. That’s bad for business and the Republican myth of being fiscally responsible.

The Times laughably suggests that how Republicans deal with this will “tell a lot about the party’s professed allegiance to fiscal discipline ahead of the 2016 presidential election,” but that’s just silly. We already know, from long and painful experience, that Republicans are dangerously irresponsible when it comes to fiscal discipline. I don’t believe the problem here is whether the GOP wants to be “honest” in dealing with the Sequester. Not for nothing, honesty and the Republican Party parted ways decades ago. No, I think the real problem is that the warhawks don’t want to risk not being able to throw billions more at the Pentagon if the “fiscally responsible” Republicans can’t figure out how to end just the military cuts in the Sequester while leaving all the domestic cuts in place. They want to have their cake and eat it, too. But only if they can make sure the poor can’t eat at all.