Putting the Pentagon budget on the table?

PUTTING THE PENTAGON BUDGET ON THE TABLE?…. When the White House started talking up the notion of a spending freeze (which isn’t really a spending freeze) last week, officials outlined a proposal with modest reductions in discretionary spending not related to national security.

There are a few unfortunate angles to this, but one of the key problems is taking defense spending out of the equation. Fred Kaplan noted the other day that if we’re looking to cut the budget, the Pentagon shouldn’t be excluded.

I was surprised to see House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) explain yesterday that he agrees.

“I don’t think any agency of the federal government should be exempt from rooting out wasteful spending or unnecessary spending. And I, frankly, I would agree with it at the Pentagon. There’s got to be wasteful spending there, unnecessary spending there. It all ought to be eliminated….”

Well, what a pleasant surprise.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that if we’re going to start taking a scalpel to the budget, there’s no reason the Pentagon should necessarily get a pass. And just a few days later, her Republican counterpart expressed an identical sentiment on national television.

Boehner probably didn’t mean it, and would go after anyone who tried to eliminate wasteful spending from the Defense Department. Indeed, last April, the Obama administration trimmed some unnecessary spending from the Pentagon, and GOP lawmakers accused the president of “ravaging the military at a time of war.”

But maybe Boehner’s remarks should simply be taken at face value, and the Democratic leadership should use this as an opening for some “bipartisan” fiscal responsibility.

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Steve Benen

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.