On March 22, Representative Paul Ryan (R–WI), chairman of the House Budget Committee, sat down with Heritage’s David Addington, Michael Franc, and Stuart Butler to discuss his budget proposal The Path to Prosperity: Restoring America’s Promise and President Obama’s fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget.
Ryan’s assessment of defense spending, in particular, was cogent. He voiced concerns that President Obama’s defense budget was a budget-driven process and wasn’t based upon on our strategic requirements and the threats that we face. He said that after 10 years of war and wear and tear on equipment, the American military is in dire shape and needs to be “reset.” Here’s an excerpt that begins at the 15:29 mark:
We’ve burned through a lot of equipment with two wars. So there’s a replacement that’s required. We have to have a technological superiority by a long shot against any potential adversary. And other countries are catching up. China is putting a lot of investment in their military.… [T]he world is a more dangerous place in a decentralized, asymmetrical way than we’ve ever seen before. That means navy, air force—those things are expensive, and you have to mind that.
The last point is end strength. With the President’s deep drop in end strength, meaning troops, you’re going to stretch your guarding reserves so much more thinly. And that really stresses the system. But also what we’ve seen in past conflict after drawdowns is that we’ve drawn down so much that when the next conflict arises, we are very ill prepared to fight these wars and it puts our people at risk. It’s really about the safety and the security of the men and women we send into combat, making sure that they have the best weapons, the superiority, and the strength in numbers so that we don’t compromise people’s safety—so that we don’t lose lives fighting wars.
And that to me is extremely important.… [I]t’s the first primary principle. And the President, in his budget, it is a budget-driven strategy, not a strategy-driven budget. All you need to know is that the day he announced his number is when he said he’s going to begin the review of how to reorganize the Pentagon. You can get savings out of the Pentagon. We take $300 billion out of the base Pentagon spending off of last year’s budget. We just don’t drop it so low that it hollows it out.
So we think savings and efficiencies can be gotten from the Pentagon, but we keep it level funding, which is $4 billion above the President next year. And then we have what we call real growth after that. So we do not hollow out—we can have the kind of modern, sizeable military we need to be strong for whatever eventuality occurs.