WHY LET REALITY GET IN THE WAY?…. The response from conservative lawmakers to Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ proposed restructuring of military spending is actually quite helpful.

The [House Armed Services Committee’s] ranking member, John McHugh, said, “[i]f implemented, this proposal will be tantamount to an $8 billion cut in defense spending,” though he seems to be using a peculiar definition of “tantamount”.

He is joined by Rep. J. Randy Forbes (R-VA), who tied the supposed cuts to the financial sector bailout and the stimulus. “Today’s announcement of defense cuts is a reaction to the fiscal strain caused by trillions in bailout and stimulus spending, rather than a result of regular strategic review and overall threat analysis,” Forbes said.

Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) joined in the fun, arguing that “[w]hile President Obama is pushing for mind-boggling increases in domestic spending, the one place he wants to cut spending is defense”

“This makes no sense,” Akin went on, “not only because the world is not becoming safer, but because these cuts will eliminate thousands of well-paying jobs across America.”

As it happens, it doesn’t make sense, but only because these guys don’t know what they’re talking about.

In truth, this explains why Republican policymakers have so much trouble with budgeting. They’ve convinced themselves that $534 billion is less than $513 billion. It’s long been apparent that GOP lawmakers are bad at governing; it now appears they’re also surprisingly bad at arithmetic.

It’s hard to believe the political discourse could be this ridiculous. The Obama administration not only wants to spend more on the military than Bush did, it also wants to spend more than China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran spend on defense combinedtimes three.

Neither Gates nor Obama are proposing defense “cuts.” Maybe they should, but they’re not. Conservatives — including conservative Democrats — who argue otherwise just aren’t telling the truth.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.