John McCain Hits Rand Paul On Defense Spending

I noted several times during the election the debate taking place within the Tea Party movement over whether or not defense spending should be on the table when it comes time to discuss spending cuts. Yesterday, it became clear that there will also be a battle in the Senate:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, expressed concern Monday that some new Republican legislators would be defined by their “protectionism and isolationism,” two views that the Vietnam war veteran feared would result in a butting of heads within the party on Afghanistan and defense spending.

“I think there are going to be some tensions within our party,” McCain said during a conference put on by Foreign Policy Initiative, a DC-based think tank. “I worry a lot about the rise of protectionism and isolationism in the Republican Party.”

A prime example, McCain continued, was Rand Paul, Kentucky’s next U.S. Senator.

“I admire his victory, but … already he has talked about withdrawals [and] cuts in defense,” McCain said.


According to McCain, Republicans who have hinted that they would be willing to prove their commitment to fiscal conservatism by considering blanket cuts, including in defense spending, are wrong primarily because the budget shortfalls could be mitigated simply by cutting earmarks and reducing Pentagon waste.

McCain, of course, is full of nonsense. Eliminating earmarks isn’t going to save a single dime, and cutting Pentagon “waste” is an old Washington canard used by those who don’t want to engage in real spending cuts.

So, it comes down to a debate between John McCain and Rand Paul. On this one, I’m siding with the Senator from Kentucky

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, Congress, US Politics, , , , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. john personna says:

    Heh, what is this, a battle between two forms of make-believe? While cutting earmarks will not balance the budget, it is about as silly to believe they cost “not one cent.”

  2. PD Shaw says:

    I believe there is significant waste in the defense budget. The deficit comm’n identified a number of weapons systems and programs that neither the Pentagon nor DOD wants.

  3. john personna says:

    The deficit comm’n identified a number of weapons systems and programs that neither the Pentagon nor DOD wants.

    Oh come on, those don’t cost a penny.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    The U. S. Senate is little different from the Chicago City Council. It just has a bigger budget to spend. When a Chicago pol talks about the difficulty of cutting costs he or she immediately talks about reducing the number of firefighters, police officers, or teachers rather than about cutting the levels of bureaucracy at City Hall or Pershing Road (which isn’t on Pershing Road any more). They emphasize the reduction in services that people want that reducing costs could bring.

    Similarly, senators never talk about eliminating weapons systems that neither the Pentagon nor the DoD want but their states may. They also don’t do anything about double-dipping, a great source of strength to the military-industrial complex, as was pointed out by Ike more than 50 years ago.