Washington, DC October 11, 2011- At a panel discussion on October 5, 2011- “Providing for the Common Defense: The First Duty of the Super Committee” – four prominent grassroots and tea party leaders, several members of Congress, and defense policy experts joined the ‘Coalition for the Common Defense’ to launch a grassroots national public education campaign to prevent defense budget cuts against an already hollowed out military.

Congressional speakers included Rep. Randy Forbes (VA-4), Representative Trent Franks (AZ-2), Representative Paul Broun, MD (GA-10), and Representative Doug Lamborn (CO-5).

Grassroots and Tea Party leaders included Scott Cooper (Virginia Tea Party Federation), Joel Arends, Chairman and Founder, Veterans for a Strong America, and Jim Martin (chairman, 60 Plus Association with over 5 million supporters).

Crucial polling data on the Tea Party’s support for a strong defense was presented by Colin Hanna, founder of Let Freedom Ring.  A large  majority – 55% – of tea party supporters believe defense spending should be maintained at current levels, based on a nationwide poll of 1000 likely voters.  Only 34% of tea party supporters would cut the defense budget.

That polling data was reinforced by the Virginia Tea Party Federation’s Scott Cooper, who stated that “We’re going to have a cycle where we turn back and we make our common defense a priority. Providing for the common defense is the primary issue that is laid out in the preamble of the Constitution.  The Tea Party’s support for the common defense is three fold: we’re for constitutionally limited government. Then we’re for financial/fiscal responsibility. And then we’re for free markets.”

Congressional speakers emphasized the threat to national security if greater cuts are made to the U.S. defense budget, which has already received $465 billion in cuts over the next ten years.

Representative Randy Forbes (VA-4) stated that I would suggest to you for American to be great, we’ve got to have a strong economy and a strong military. We begin to unravel one and we begin to unravel the other. Now, is there anything that we can do? Do we just sit back and wring our hands? Well, let me just suggest to you there is something we can do. We will have a resolution. It’s called Strong Defense, Strong America. All of the subcommittee chairmen for the Armed Services Committee have endorsed this resolution today. We will be moving it on the floor to try to get signatures on it and try to get it brought up before the Armed Services Committee.  It recounts how important defense is for the United States of America and if I could just paraphrase, it says, enough is enough. No more cuts to the military. We cannot balance this crisis on their backs. If you want to do something over the next few weeks, and we only have about a month, you can get as many people as you can to call as many people as they can and say sign on to this resolution so we can send a message to the super committee that we are going to make sure that America continues to have the strongest military in the world.

Representative Trent Franks (AZ-2) expressed concern about the Congressional Super Committee: “I’m convinced that if this so-called Super Committee fails and sequestration is triggered, it will mean undoing the greatest military force in the history of humanity. And potentially the beginning of our financial ruin as well, because the military creates all kinds of ripples in our economy and the high paying jobs that result. If there is any true stimulus that the government can make, it is to keep this country strong and to invest in the men and women who give everything they have for all of us. Not only do these cuts jeopardize our national security, of course they endanger our economy.”

Representative Paul Broun (GA-10) noted: “We don’t have enough Marines.  We don’t have enough brigades in the Army. We don’t have enough ships in the Navy. Or enough wings in the Air Force. We need to be building our military, not tearing it down. Our military is stretched to the limits. Families are being destroyed because of multiple deployments and our military is tired in the personnel, tired in the equipment. We need to be spending more on the military – which is the constitutional function of the federal government under the original intent.”

Representative Doug Lamborn (CO-5) stated: “The Armed Services Committee expects at least twenty-five percent of the civilian workforce to be furloughed if this sequestration takes place. And according to Secretary Leon Panetta, at least a million jobs would be lost. He calls this a doomsday mechanism. So in closing, deeper cuts to our military would be so detrimental to our national security it’s horrible to contemplate. There’s no doubt that we can find efficiencies in a large budget like the Department of Defense has. And I am a fiscal conservative. But we don’t want to cut capabilities. That’s what I’m concerned about.”

The full list of speakers for the program included (in order):

  • Frank J. Gaffney, Jr., President, Center for Security Policy, Moderator
  • Representative J. Randy Forbes (VA-4)
  • Representative Trent Franks (AZ-2)
  • Tom Donnelly, Director, Center for Defense Studies, American Enterprise Institute
  • Rear Admiral Jim Carey, Chairman, Flag & General Officers’ Network
  • Colin Hanna, President, Let Freedom Ring
  • Cord Sterling, Aerospace Industries Association
  • Representative Paul Broun, MD (GA-10)
  • Representative Doug Lamborn (CO-5)
  • Elaine Donnelly, President, Center for Military Readiness
  • Joel Arends, Chairman and Founder, Veterans for a Strong America
  • Jim Martin, Chairman, 60 Plus Association
  • Scott Cooper, VA Tea Party Federation

Transcripts and videos of the event can be located at http://forthecommondefense.org/?page_id=301.

Yesterday’s panel also served as the formal launch for the ‘Coalition for the Common Defense.’ The Coalition for the Common Defense announced its ‘Statement of Principles,’ already supported by a significant group of nationally reknowned signnatories who have joined the effort to ensure that our military retains the needed capabilities to meet its Constitutionally required duties.

The Coalition for the Common Defense is an alliance of like-minded individuals and organizations who believe that without provision for the “common defense,” as articulated by the Founders, the freedom that has allowed unprecedented opportunity and prosperity to flourish in this country would soon be imperiled. In this new age of budgetary cuts, the Coalition rejects the false choice between military strength and economic health contending that economic prosperity depends on a strong national defense. Through a series of events and strategic partnerships, the coalition is calling on elected officials, candidates for office and others who share our commitment to the common defense to uphold these principles.  We must return the United States to sensible fiscal principles without sacrificing our national security. 

A full statement of principles can be located here. The Coalition of the Common Defense can be found online at www.forthecommondefense.org.