Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson, a GOP stalwart, has bravely waded into an area where few Republicans dare to tread. He has promised to cut defense spending. The web site Think Progress has posted an interview Isakson gave to Atlanta TV reporter Paul Yates on Fox Five earlier this week.
At one point, Fox 5’s Paul Yates asked the senator about legislation he’s pushing that would “dramatically reduce the federal budget deficit in coming years.” Yates asked Isakson which “government programs would have to be cut to make that proposal work.” Isakson responded that “there’s not a government program that shouldn’t be under scrutiny. And that begins with the Department of Defense and goes all the way through:”
YATES: You’re pushing legislation that would dramatically reduce the federal budget deficit in coming years. Which government programs would have to be cut to make that proposal work?
ISAKSON: Well first of all there’s not a government program that shouldn’t be under scrutiny. And that begins with the Department of Defense and goes all the way through. We need to be asking the American government to do what the American people have been forced do, which is sit around the kitchen table, prioritize their expenses based on income, and balance their budget.
Here’s the video:
Think Progress chides Isakson for talking the talk but refusing to walk the walk, noting that he has continued to vote for huge defense appropriations:
When the Pentagon requested to Congress to phase out the F-22 program — meaning even the Department of Defense didn’t want to build additional fighters — Isakson fought the request. The senator defended the unneeded aircraft on the floor of the U.S. Senate and all over the media.
But if government spending is to be cut, defense is an appropriate target. Including veterans’ benefits, defense spending comes in at around 20 percent of the federal budget. If Republicans are serious about cutting government spending, the Pentagon has to be reined in, too.
But Republicans haven’t followed through on their pledges for fiscal austerity. Kentucky Senate candidate Rand Paul used to talk about cutting the Pentagon radically, but he stopped that sort of talk as soon as he won the GOP nomination. The Republican establishment got a ahold of him and forced him to fit its mold.
We’ll see if Sen. Isakson means what he says.