South Carolina is a major military state with two Air Force bases, an Army base, two Marine bases, a Navy weapons station and two naval hospitals located in the state. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) gave a policy speech today in Charleston, SC that unveiled his plan to invest in rebuilding the armed forces.
His opponents, mainly U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), have tried to discredit Cruz’s resolve in this issue. One of the chief ways they have attempted to do this is by pointing out his no votes on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). For instance Rubio surrogate Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) wrote an op/ed for National Review today. I have also seen tweets like the one below from Rubio advisor Joe Pounder:
— Joe Pounder (@PounderFile) February 16, 2016
Ok here are some pertinent facts that the Rubio camp has withheld. First it is a policy bill, not an appropriations bill. What the Rubio camp doesn’t tell you is that he voted against it because certain language in the bill was unconstitutional. Namely, it authorized indefinite detention of American citizens accused of terrorism. That is a clear violation of the 5th Amendment.
Cruz promised his constituents that if he was elected to the U.S. Senate he would vote against any bill that violated the Constitution. He keeps his campaign promise and establishment Republicans criticize him for it. They should learn from his example instead of taking pot shots at him for it. This is one of the reasons he is so popular among grassroots conservatives and Republicans in his state. Apparently Rubio is in favor of violating the Constitution by detaining American citizens accused of terrorism indefinitely without due process. Which law school did Rubio attend again? He should ask for a tuition refund.
Second in regards to criticism that he supported cuts in defense spending the Rubio camp has neglected to share another pertinent fact to his supporters and the media. Cruz voted for the last defense appropriations bill and Rubio was a no show.
The saying those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones comes to mind.
Rubio couldn’t bother showing up to vote for the appropriations bill he claims (and I agree) is vitally important.
Rubio and his surrogates claim that Cruz because supported Paul’s 2013 budget proposal he favored defense spending cuts. The problem is that that you can’t call something that increases spending year after year a cut, that is nonsensical. Defense spending was lower than Congressional Budget Office projections, but regardless it’s still not a cut as Politifact pointed out:
Under Paul’s proposal, defense appropriations would have gone from $521 billion in 2014 to $634 billion in 2023. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, projected $588 billion in defense appropriations in 2014 to $731 billion in 2023. That means that Paul actually increased year-over-year defense spending, though it did not keep pace with estimated projections to sustain current defense levels.
Was Paul’s proposal a ‘cut’ for defense?
So why did Rubio refer to Paul’s budget as a “cut” if defense spending would rise?
“We take the budget document at its word that it cuts defense spending and seeks to reduce the size and scope of the military,” Rubio senior adviser Joe Pounder said.
But experts questioned whether Rubio can call Paul’s proposal a “cut.”
“Paul’s defense budget was above the budget caps set in the Budget Control Act, so in that respect it was an increase (and the president’s budget was an even larger increase),” said Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “But Paul’s defense budget was less than what other Republicans were proposing and what the president was proposing, so in that sense it was a cut.”
Paul’s 2013 proposal for defense was well below Obama’s request both at the time and now, Harrison said.
Christopher Preble, at the libertarian Cato Institute, said he would not call Paul’s budget a “cut.”
“As is typical in Washington-speak, a less-than-expected increase is often cast as a cut,” he said. “This is misleading.”
Also it’s debatable whether this bill would impact military readiness. Having served I can tell you first hand how much waste occurs in military spending and I just saw a small sliver of it. Savings can be found in reducing this, as well as, say allowing the Department of Defense to renegotiate contracts. Regardless of all of this a less-than-expected increase is not a spending cut. If Rubio doesn’t understand this perhaps he shouldn’t be serving in the U.S. Senate.
Rubio also never points out that Cruz voted in favor of his budget amendment that would have raised the FY 2016 defense spending from $620 billion to $697 billion. Politifact backed Cruz up on this count as well.
Cruz said Rubio “knows full well I voted for his amendment to increase military spending to $697 billion.”
Cruz did indeed vote for a failed Rubio amendment that would have increased military spending after years of spending cuts. While the amendment didn’t specifically say spending would be increased to $697 billion, that figure was part of the discussion among the bill’s proponents.
Cruz’s point is right on, so we rate his statement True.
I find it amazing that Rubio keeps saying Cruz is lying when he himself has been called on the carpet twice for lying about this issue himself.