The video above contains most of what Lindsey Graham had to say yesterday at the press conference at which he, Joe Wilson, Steve Benjamin, Bobby Harrell and Rich Eckstrom all decried the looming “sequestration” of the defense budget.
I didn’t get the video up and running at the start of Graham’s remarks, so here are some excerpts from what he said before that:
- “As a Republican, I was very disappointed that my party leadership would put the Defense Department in such a bad spot.”
- “If politicians can’t come up with a way to reduce spending in a responsible manner, fire us; don’t fire the soldiers. It’s the one thing that seems to be working at the federal level is the military. So we’ve come up with this hare-brained idea that if we can’t do our job, the penalty to be paid is by those who’ve been doing their job very well. I don’t know if you can print this, but I’ll say it: That’s ass-backwards.”
- “What does it mean to cut a trillion dollars out of the Defense Department budget over the next decade? [the sequestration plus $400 billion in cuts being sought outside that] It means you have the smallest Army since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1915 — 231 ships — the smallest Air Force in history.”
After that, it’s pretty much all on the video. Sorry about the crudity of the clip — I was unable to edit it because I shot it on my iPhone, and don’t have software for editing that on my PC.
Bottom line, the message was that the nation shouldn’t dramatically weaken our defense just because members of Congress couldn’t do their job. Half of the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts, resulting from the failure of last year’s supercommittee (which was a mere microcosm of the overall failure of Congress), are set to come from the Defense budget — $600 billion. And they would not be targeted — no eliminating $300 hammers and preserving pay for soldiers. “These are blind, across-the-board cuts.”
He kept hitting the point that one part of the government that’s doing its job — the military — shouldn’t get eviscerated because Congress isn’t doing its job at all.
Perhaps fitting given the setting and the presence of Mayor Benjamin, Graham’s tone was decidedly nonpartisan. For instance, he challenged Mitt Romney to put forward a plan for achieving the cuts without hollowing out the military.
I’ve got video of the other speakers as well, and can provide on request. But they said much the same things he said. His presentation was just more complete.