Saving General Ryan

Well, this item from The Hill‘s Justin Sink would just make my day, if it weren’t so horrifying:

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) expressed skepticism Thursday that U.S. military leaders were being honest in their budget requests to Congress.

“We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice,” Ryan said during a forum on the budget sponsored by the National Journal. “We don’t think the generals believe their budget is really the right budget….

He went on to say that while there were certainly inefficiencies that could be reduced in the Pentagon’s budget, fighting wars in the Middle East and a “dangerous world” necessitated keeping defense spending level.

The comments were in response to a question from National Journal managing editor Kristin Roberts, who asked Ryan why the committee chose “to go against the advice of the generals” in rolling back $487 billion in proposed cuts to the Pentagon’s budget over the next decade.

Wait, it gets even better with Roberts’ follow-up question:

After Ryan’s initial remarks, Roberts noted that the budget was something that came from the Defense Department itself, not the Obama administration.

“You don’t believe the generals?” Roberts asked.

“What I believe is this budget does hollow out defense,” Ryan responded. “I believe this budget goes beyond where we should go to keep people safe.”

So this “genius” budgeter, whose party is always happy to defer to the generals when the generals say what they want to hear, is putting a couple of stars on his shoulder and dictating what the Pentagon needs to “keep people safe.” That’s particularly amazing since General Ryan is under fire from every direction for failing to offer a credible plan to reach his own arbitrary deficit reduction targets.

I hope the deficit hawks who keep defending Ryan weigh in on this determination to cram more money down the Pentagon. Or maybe GOP leaders can save him from even further mockery by letting him off the hook for sticking to the philosophy of never cutting defense spending when there’s a single dollar left to wring out of the poor.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.