- The Washington Times - Monday, September 12, 2011

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, in a harsh attack on the Obama administration Monday, accused the president of viewing American military power as a negative force in the world, and planning to “gut” defense spending through the congressional deficit-reduction committee.

“It is my suspicion that the White House and congressional Democrats” designed the supercommittee process “for one purpose: to force Republicans to choose between raising taxes or gutting defense,” said California Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, the House Armed Services Committee chairman.

Mr. McKeon also lashed out at the administration’s defense and security policies that he asserted are based on a negative view of U.S. power in the world.

“President Obama’s policies often seem reflective of an ideology that treats American power as the principal adversary, not ally, to world peace,” he told an audience at the American Enterprise Institute.

That view “flies in the face of both history and experience. And it resigns us to national decline,” he added.

“Power in benevolent hands is a virtue, not a vice.”

White House officials declined to respond.

Under the deficit reduction act passed by Congress this summer, if the supercommittee cannot agree on a package of measures to reduce the national debt, the Defense Department, already facing spending cuts of $350 billion over 10 years, will face another half trillion or more dollars in automatic cuts — what defense officials have termed a “doomsday trigger.”

“That political gamesmanship is simply unacceptable,” Mr. McKeon said of the deal, which he voted to approve while expressing grave concerns about the potential impact on defense spending.

Even if the supercommittee is able to reach a deal and avoid pulling the defense cut trigger, Mr. McKeon said he remained concerned that the White House planned to make cuts of almost the same half-trillion dollar amount through the supercommittee process.

“Recent statements from the Office of Management and Budget indicate that the administration could be pushing for defense cuts that near the size and scope of the trigger, within the confines of the supercommittee,” he said.

Such cuts would be “beyond what the Defense Department is prepared to absorb,” he added, and would “open the door to aggression, as our ability to deter and respond to an attack would be severely crippled.”

“Folks, it is impossible to pay our entitlement tab with the Pentagon’s credit card,” he stated.

Officials at the Office of Management and Budget had no immediate comment on Mr. McKeon’s remarks.

Concern about cuts to defense spending is widely shared by Republicans conservatives. Some have taken a more optimistic view of the outcome of the supercommittee process.

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