You know what they say – “like father, like son.” Senator Rand Paul(R-KY) energized a crowd of ardent Ron Paul (R-TX) supporters on Sunday, calling for an audit of the Pentagon and highlighted the need for more oversight of defense spending. Senator Rand Paul spoke at a rally for his father in Tampa a day before the official scheduled start time of the Republican National Convention.
Speaking to thousands of supporters there to celebrate the accomplishments of the libertarian firebrand, Paul gave a preview of his much anticipated Tuesday speech at the RNC, which was originally scheduled for Monday before Hurricane Isaac disrupted the schedule and bumped all of Monday’s events back a day.
Much to the delight of his adherents who rightly clamor for an audit of the Federal Reserve, Senator Paul rallied the crowd by attacking the largest government expenditure: defense spending. “Because we’ve talked about audit the Fed so much, we’re now talking about audit the Pentagon,” he said.
Alluding to his speech at the RNC, Paul went on to state, “one of the messages that I will give to them is that Republicans need to acknowledge that not every dollar is well-spent or sacred in the military and we have to look for ways to make every department accountable.”
These statements put Paul in stark contrast to mainstream Republican thought, but it served to highlight the growing concern by a wide array of political leaders over the national debt. GOP Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan said just last week that “it is our goal to pass a sequester replacement bill” before the end of the year, but if a lame duck Congress fails to seal the deal and sequestration occurs, they plan “to fix it retroactively once a new Congress takes office.”
While many Republicans have provided the American people with a view of draconian consequences stemming from military sequestration, which would cut hundreds of billions in defense spending over the next decade, some Republicans like Sen. Paul and Rep. Justin Amash (R- MI) have pushed back against these claims. Paul’s primetime speech at the RNC tonight will be the paragon of those efforts.
The argument by Paul is one worth further examination. In 2010, the United States spent 45 percent of the world’s total military budget, $728 billion of the world’s total $1.6 trillion in military spending. That $728 billion is more than the next 14 largest countries combined. Even with the defense budget cuts, America will still be the biggest player (and spender) on the world stage.
As the Cato Institute points out, the Department of Defense base budget under sequestration will be about equal to 2006 defense spending, a year in which we were engaged more heavily in international entanglements than we currently are in 2012.
It is disingenuous for the RNC to unveil a debt clock for this year’s convention if the mere idea of defense spending cuts is not even a topic for debate within the GOP. Rand Paul rightly points out that the pathway to a balanced budget, reduced spending, and the opportunity to begin paying down the debt runs right through the Pentagon and the Department of Defense.