Do Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio Think We Can Raise Defense Spending Even More Without Cutting Elsewhere?

by Veronique de Rugy

On Thursday, Senator Rand Paul proposed an amendment to the Senate budget that would have hiked defense spending and paid for it with a range of spending cuts elsewhere. The summary, via Reason’s Nick Gillespie: 

Amdt. 940 will increase, defense spending by nearly $190 billion over the next two years. This amendment continues to fulfill the President’s OCO request and mandatory defense spending. 

In the proposed amendment, Sen. Paul provides an increase in defense spending with offsets from the following accounts:  

•  $21 billion from Foreign Assistance accounts (budget 150 function)
•  $14 billion from the National Science Foundation and Climate Change research under the General Science, Space, and Technology (budget 250 function)
•  $10 billion total from the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Commerce activities under Natural Resources and Environment (Budget 300 function) and Commerce and Housing Credits (Budget 370 function)
•  $20 billion from Department of Education
•  $41 billion in discretionary spending from the Department of Housing and Urban Development

These reductions would occur in both FY2016 and FY2017.

Seems like a reasonable plan if you want more defense spending but also care about our deficit and debt picture.

Senators Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz, though, who presumably want more defense spending and care about the debt, voted against the amendment. May I ask why? Do they have an objection to offsetting defense spending increases, or do the have an objection to these particular cuts? If it’s the latter, where are the spending cuts of their own?

Both men will likely end up running for president, and if elected, they would have to take real, tough steps to put the country on a sound fiscal path. Are they not willing to do that even now?

Update: Senator Cruz was kind enough to send an answer to my questions through his Deputy Press Secretary, Phil Novack:

I like and respect both Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, they are friends, and I have agreed with either or both many, many times. I supported Marco’s amendment increasing defense spending because the very first priority of the federal government must be protecting our vital national security, and the Obama Administration has seriously undermined our military’s ability to do so. Of course, we must also be fiscally prudent, which is why I joined Mike Lee in filing an amendment to require Congress to offset any defense increases using other budget reductions and without increasing taxes. Rand Paul’s amendment was a good-faith effort to accomplish both, but I didn’t support the amendment because I was concerned it could weaken military support for Israel and also damage important scientific research and programs at NASA.

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