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Sarah Palin: Fiscal Conservatism Shouldn’t Apply To Defense Spending

It looks like Sarah Palin is trying to convince her Tea Party admirers that their devotion to fiscal conservatism shouldn’t apply to defense spending:

Sarah Palin is waging a battle inside the Tea Party movement to exempt defense spending from the group’s small-government, anti-deficit fervor.

There’s growing concern among Republicans — and especially among the pro-defense neoconservative wing of the party — that national-security spending, which is under a level of scrutiny and pressure not seen since the end of the Cold War, could fall victim to the anti-establishment, anti-spending agenda of the Tea Party movement. Palin, as the unofficial leader of that movement and its most prominent celebrity, is moving to carve out such funding from any drives to cut overall government expenditures.

(…)

Palin’s drive to lead the charge against defense cuts on the right was on display in a June 27 speech at “Freedom Fest,” a conservative gathering in Norfolk, VA, where she sent a clear message to Republicans that deficit reduction can’t come at the expense of the military.

“Something has to be done urgently to stop the out of control Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending machine, and no government agency should be immune from budget scrutiny,” she said. “We must make sure, however, that we do nothing to undermine the effectiveness of our military. If we lose wars, if we lose the ability to deter adversaries, if we lose the ability to provide security for ourselves and for our allies, we risk losing all that makes America great! That is a price we cannot afford to pay.”

Palin also directly took on Defense Secretary Robert Gates, a Republican, challenging his drive to reign in procurement spending and reevaluate the need for certain huge weapons systems and platforms.

“Secretary Gates recently spoke about the future of the U.S. Navy. He said we have to ‘ask whether the nation can really afford a Navy that relies on $3 to $6 billion destroyers, $7 billion submarines, and $11 billion carriers.’ He went on to ask, ‘Do we really need … more strike groups for another 30 years when no other country has more than one?’” Palin said. “Well, my answer is pretty simple: Yes, we can and, yes, we do, because we must.”

Palin’s enthusiasm for defense spending without regard to whether it’s actually useful isn’t shared by all Republicans, though:

Republican Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma sent a letter to the commission explaining exactly why he thinks defense spending is ripe for cost-cutting. “I appreciate that some of these thoughts are controversial,” he wrote, “even to the point that I have some reluctance in suggesting them” — highlighting the sensitivity of even challenging increased defense spending, something of a third rail in GOP politics. “However, if we are to fulfill our mandate, we must make some difficult choices, not just recommend that others do so,” he said.

Coburn, of course, is absolutely right on this one, and Palin is completely wrong. If we are going rein in Federal spending and make a serious move toward cutting the budget deficit, then there is no area that can be completely off the table, including a $ 700 billion defense budget. To say otherwise while claiming the mantle of fiscal conservatism is to be a completely hypocrite and, if Palin is serious about her comment that defense spending is untouchable, and similarly serious about her previous comments that tax increases are out of the question, then she is demonstrate an astounding amount of economic illiteracy.

You can’t pay for something with nothing, Mrs. Palin, and you can’t call yourself a fiscal conservative if you’re not really serious about spending cuts. And your comments demonstrate a distinct lack of seriousness.

H/T: United Liberty

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Brian Knapp says:

    If we lose wars, if we lose the ability to deter adversaries, if we lose the ability to provide security for ourselves and for our allies, we risk losing all that makes America great!>

    And caring for the tired, sick, poor, and huddled masses clearly does not fulfill any sort of greatness.

    Doug and Coburn are right. Defense spending both budgeted and not are out of control. If we want to solve for the deficit, cuts and or strategies must be instituted for the cash cows. And there is none bigger than the DOD.

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  2. steve says:

    “To say otherwise while claiming the mantle of fiscal conservatism is to be a completely hypocrite and, if Palin is serious about her comment that defense spending is untouchable, and similarly serious about her previous comments that tax increases are out of the question, then she is demonstrate an astounding amount of economic illiteracy.”

    I know this will sound like snark, but this does not sound much different than longstanding Republican electoral politics. Talk about cutting spending without suggesting items to cut. Setting aside certain parts of the budget as sacred cows. Offering tax cuts. Couple this with the recent defense of Medicare and it gets very difficult to effect meaningful debt reduction.

    Steve

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  3. Steve Verdon says:

    We do way too much with our military and cutting back would be one small step towards putting us on a path to fiscal sanity. Anyone who thinks otherwise is simply not focusing on the larger picture of the fiscal train wreck we are about to experience.

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  4. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    What is the primary job of the federal government? If you think it is to pay your way, to take responsibility for those things you should be responsible for. Then you are right. If you believe the federal government is responsible, primarily for the defense of this country and our freedom depends upon it. Those who who have never put their lives on the line for this country should STFU. If I am unemployed, I can get a job. If I am sick, I can find a doctor to help me. If I lose my freedom to a foreign enemy, that is something I cannot recover. Those of you who think we should cut defense spending to insure social programs. I hope the next time al Qaeda strikes us, you and your family. All of those you love are at the site of the attack. I wonder what those who lost loved ones on 9/11 think thoses loses were worth?

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  5. TangoMan says:

    Doug,

    Mrs. Palin, and you can’t call yourself a fiscal conservative if you’re not really serious about spending cuts

    The proper form of address here is not Mrs. Palin, it’s Governor Palin, just like Bill Clinton is not Mr. Clinton, it’s President Clinton.

    Secondly, Governor Palin can indeed call herself a fiscal conservative because she’s earned her bona fides on that claim and I’ve linked to her Alaska budgets on this very blog to document her fiscal conservative hard choices.

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  6. GS says:

    Ehh… I get what you’re saying, theoretically speaking. I’m just not convinced that the military is the best place to cut spending, particularly while we’re engaged in two wars on foreign soil. There is $1.4 trillion in “mandatory” spending on Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, none of which is going to be solvent or helpful for my generation. I’d prefer that your generation begin cutting some of that. Perhaps some of the subsidies for shrimp and clam research. That’s what folks like Sarah Palin are saying. I have to say I agree with that line of reasoning. If you’re dead-set on cutting defense spending, then how’s about when we no longer need them logistically, we move on out of Germany and ever-ungrateful South Korea?

    The primary duty of the national government is to defend the country. Let’s not lose perspective here. I’m all for fiscal stability, but throwing the baby out with the bathwater, to quote Michael McKean, just leaves you with a “wet, critically injured baby”.

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  7. grampagravy says:

    Zelsdork,
    How many carrier groups does it take to stop an underpants bomber?
    How many fighter jets does it take to figure out that four Saudis who want to learn to fly airliners, but don’t care about how to land them, mean trouble?

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  8. sam says:

    @Zelsdorf

    “Those of you who think we should cut defense spending to insure social programs. I hope the next time al Qaeda strikes us, you and your family. All of those you love are at the site of the attack.”

    In addition to being stupid beyond the powers of description, you really are a despicable son of a bitch.

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  9. Davebo says:

    Well, we could certainly help reduce the deficit by taking away Alaska’s sweet heart deal on oil and mineral royalties taken on federal lands.

    Every state in the union gets 50% except Alaska which gets 90% so it can literally pay it’s citizens to live there.

    What do you say Sarah?

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  10. An Interested Party says:

    “Those who who have never put their lives on the line for this country should STFU.”

    Than why are you still bloviating?

    “The proper form of address here is not Mrs. Palin, it’s Governor Palin, just like Bill Clinton is not Mr. Clinton, it’s President Clinton.”

    An interesting comparison, considering that the latter completed both of his terms that he was elected to while the former couldn’t even finish her first time…dollar signs and all that…

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  11. Wayne says:

    Still misrepresenting what Palin said. She did not say that defense spending is untouchable.

    “and no government agency should be immune from budget scrutiny,” she said. “We must make sure, however, that we do nothing to undermine the effectiveness of our military”

    No government agency should be immune includes the DOD. Her point that we should take great care in not undermining the effectiveness of our military while doing so is not only non-hypocritical but smart. So stop lying about what she said.

    Protecting this country is a primary responsibility of the Federal government. Taking care of the sick and poor is not. The social programs should be the first and most severely cut. Unfortunately it is usually the military which is cut first.

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  12. TangoMan says:

    An interesting comparison, considering that the latter completed both of his terms that he was elected to while the former couldn’t even finish her first time…dollar signs and all that…

    So you can’t argue against the merit of my position, which I take you support, and that tingling feeling running up your leg leads you to have to retort in some fashion, so the best you can do is focus on the example I used. Pitiful. You know, there’s an old saying coined by Twain and it goes like this “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

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  13. Steve Verdon says:

    The proper form of address here is not Mrs. Palin, it’s Governor Palin, just like Bill Clinton is not Mr. Clinton, it’s President Clinton.

    Bzzt. I do believe that the use of the honorfic “Governor” is used only for sitting governors. Of course, if we were to right a letter to Mrs. Palin we might put on the envelope, The Honorable Sarah Palin.

    Now, Mrs. Palin might prefer to still be called Governor Palin and it would be polite to honor that preference, but I don’t think it is incorrect to refer to her as Mrs. Palin.

    You are correct on the issue of what to call a former President, but a governor is not quite the same thing.

    http://www.formsofaddress.info/index.html

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  14. Andy says:

    “____ of course, is absolutely right on this one, and Palin is completely wrong.”

    Doug, I hope you’ve done the smart thing and made a macro for that sentence by now. Otherwise you’re wasting ungodly amounts of time.

    It says something about Palin that she’s recently graduated *up* to be flat-out wrong and hypocritical. At least now she has a discernable, comprehensible position. And it only took two years of coaching.

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  15. wr says:

    Tangoman — Palin quit her job as governor. She walked away before she finished her term. She does not deserve the honorary title.

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  16. TangoMan says:

    You are correct on the issue of what to call a former President, but a governor is not quite the same thing.

    According to Baldridge I’m actually wrong about both. From your source:

    This approach is traditional for every office for which there is only one office-holder at a time. So, witth officials such as Mayors, Governors or Presidents … only the current office holder is addressed as Mr. Mayor, Governor, or Mr. President … formers are not officially addressed that way. . . . .

    Former Presidents of the United States are directly addressed as “Mr. (Name)” … not as “President (name)” … and they are identified as “the former President of the United States”.

    If we hold Baldridge up as a source of authority, then it’s Mrs. Palin, Mr. Clinton, Mr. Reagan. If we look to common usage of titles, then former officials are entitled to be called by the title of the highest office they attained. I’m happy to abide by the consensus view so long as it is applied uniformly and I don’t believe that Baldridge’s pronouncements on this issue are the widely held consensus view.

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  17. TangoMan says:

    Doug, I hope you’ve done the smart thing and made a macro for that sentence by now. Otherwise you’re wasting ungodly amounts of time.

    There are a number of suggestive clues that Doug has done as you’ve suggested for it’s quite clear that he doesn’t write his text in response to a situation but just hits the macro button and inserts the above phrase when it’s not warranted.

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  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    TangoBrimelow:

    I have to ask again: is this an official VDARE endorsement of Palin? Do you think she’s the right politician to represent your nativist and racist points of view?

    Can you explain why?

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  19. anjin-san says:

    The proper form of address here is not Mrs. Palin, it’s Governor Palin, just like Bill Clinton is not Mr. Clinton, it’s President Clinton.

    I am pretty sure that Clinton did not quit half way thru his term to cash in on opportunities outside of government service. Why don’t we call her Governor quit halfway Palin? It’s accurate and it has a certain ring to it.

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  20. TangoMan says:

    I am pretty sure that Clinton did not quit half way thru his term to cash in on opportunities outside of government service. Why don’t we call her Governor quit halfway Palin? It’s accurate and it has a certain ring to it.

    That’s immaterial. Look at President Obama, he quit his term as Senator so that he could move up to an office which would allow him access to a large pool of resources which he could direct to graft. Look at President Clinton disrespecting the decorum of the office by lying under oath. None of these issues is at all pertinent to how they should be addressed. We’re seeing Colin Powell still addressed as Mr. Secretary, we’re seeing Newt Gingrich still addressed as Mr. Speaker, we’re seeing Jimmy Carter still addressed as President Carter, we’re seeing Norman Schwarzkopf as General Schwarzkopf.

    If you and Doug want to refer to Governor Palin as Mrs. Pain then drop the honorifics for every other official who has left office, otherwise be consistent.

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  21. An Interested Party says:

    re: TangoMan Friday, July 2, 2010 at 18:56

    Project much? If anyone around here has shown some kind of tingling feeling going up his leg and into who knows where, it is you, as, time and again, you have proven the be the official slavish lapdog of Sarah Palin on this site…what is truly pathetic is that you continue to hold her up as some shining example of…something or other that only exists in the minds of you and the very few people like you…as for your “position”, people are free to express as much, or as little, respect for public official/celebrities as they like…so whether someone wants to refer to her as Mrs. Palin or Caribou Barbie, it really doesn’t matter what you think about it…as for Twain quotes, this one comes to mind when I think of how you feel about the former governor of Alaska…

    “Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand.”

    …or regarding her success as a celebrity…

    “All you need is ignorance and confidence and the success is sure.”

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  22. anjin-san says:

    Sorry tango, I will continue to refer to Clinton as President Clinton and Palin as not very bright but looks good in a tight skirt…

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  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    You realize of course that in TangoBrimelow’s imagination she’s wearing thigh-high boots, a tight leather skirt, a severe blouse and a swastika arm band.

    Not sure if his fantasies involve a little toothbrush mustache or not.

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  24. anjin-san says:

    Tango’s fantasies. That’s scarier than the brown acid at Woodstock.

    John Cleese has Palin nailed. A nice looking parrot:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMyNk8J1c8g

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  25. Michael says:

    What bothers me most is this part:

    Palin said. “Well, my answer is pretty simple: Yes, we can and, yes, we do, because we must.”

    If she accepts that simple reasoning, then she would also support doubling or tripling our military spending, simply because we can and she has some feeling that we “must”. Need more nuclear weapons? We can, therefore we must. Need a few hundred super-strike-fighters to take on Iran’s aging F-14s, we can therfore we must. Space-based anti-missle laser system, again we can therefore we must.

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  26. Michael says:

    The primary duty of the national government is to defend the country. Let’s not lose perspective here.

    No it’s not. The confederation that existed during the Revolution proved adequate enough to provide a military defense of the country. That’s not at all why we needed a national federal government.

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  27. muffler says:

    Palin always talks in sweeping ideas. The idea that defense spending shouldn’t be part of fiscal conservation is wrong. To allow it to be a sacred cow is to allow waste and improper use of our money for defense. Defense spending is out of control because of a desire to extend our reach as an empire. We are not practicing defense as much as active offense

    If you wish to talk about defense as it should be then dismembering the manufacturing capability and the outsourcing out jobs and technology so that we can consume is more damaging to our ability to defend ourselves then anything. A strong military comes from a strong economy. You can have a strong military without an economy, but you become North Korea at that point.

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  28. When a politician like Palin talks about fiscal conservatism, you have to remember that this is merely a signifier of tribal identity, like a gang-sign for politicians. Any meaning those words might have is completely conincidental to their signalling function and it is a mistake to assume that meaning conveys any sort of policy preference on their part.

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  29. I’ve linked to her Alaska budgets on this very blog to document her fiscal conservative hard choices.

    Reducing your state’s spending by looting the rest of the country’s taxpayers through Ted Steven’s ability to attach pork to all kinds of bills doesn’t make you a fiscal conservative, it makes you a leech.

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