By: ARTHUR C. BROOKS, EDWIN J. FEULNER AND WILLIAM KRISTOL
Wall Street Journal
In an election year, it’s all too easy for politicians to defer hard choices until after the polls have closed in November. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) has taken the more difficult road with his “Path to Prosperity” budget.
Mr. Ryan’s plan has received much attention for tackling America’s spiraling expenditures on entitlements and domestic discretionary spending. Less reported is the budget’s partial restoration of national defense as the No. 1 priority of the federal government.
Even within the framework of a plan to reduce outlays by $6.2 trillion over the next decade, Mr. Ryan has found a way to replace $214 billion of the $487 billion in military spending reductions that are in Barack Obama’s budget. And he has done so while avoiding the tax increases proposed by the president.
Conservatives recognize that they have to deal with fiscal reality and get the federal government’s balance sheet in order. That is why Mr. Ryan’s plan is so bold. It does not cut indiscriminately, focusing instead on the true drivers of our spending crisis and recognizing that tax increases would worsen our economic situation.
The Ryan plan also helps to reverse what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has called the “catastrophic” process of sequestration—the year-after-year, automatic cuts agreed to in last summer’s debt-limit deal between the president and the House leadership. These cuts will eviscerate the United States military if Congress does not quickly pass a law to undo them this year. Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has made plain the consequences of sequestration: “We would no longer be a global power.”
The contrast between the House Republican budget and that of our current commander-in-chief is striking. President Obama has been arguing that raising taxes is the only solution to sequestration that he will accept. In other words, he asks the nation to decide between higher taxes and a weaker defense. Mr. Ryan rejects either solution.
Mr. Brooks is president of the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Feulner is president of the Heritage Foundation. Mr. Kristol is a director of the Foreign Policy Initiative. Their three organizations compose the Defending Defense coalition