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Cole: Defense Cuts Mean Less Capability

July 19, 2012

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04) made the following remarks on the House floor in support of H.R. 5856 - Department of Defense Appropriations Act.  Cole is a member of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

"This is a good bill. As been mentioned earlier, it adds roughly $1 billion from roughly $519 billion in the base defense bill. What hasn't been mentioned, though, our overseas contingency fund [at] $88.5 billion [is] down $27 billion.

"We are spending less overall on defense this year. We reduce the number of personnel by over 21,000. Those of our friends who think we're spending too much, we're actually at the beginning of a long drawdown. Over five years we are going to reduce spending by $500 billion. That means less capability. That means 70,000 fewer soldiers, 20,000 fewer Marines. That means 25 fewer combat vessels --  288 instead of 313. Seven fewer aircraft fighter wings.  Real reduction in capability.

"A lot of our friends think we spend too much on defense. The reality is we spend less and less as a percentage of our federal budget and our overall wealth every year. In the 1970's we were spending 40 percent-plus of the federal budget; this year, it's less than 20 percent. We were spending 9 percent of GDP at the height of the Cold War; this year barely 4 percent.

"For those that think this investment hasn't made a difference, I’d just recommend in closing, please read Robert Kagen's splendid book "The World America Made" and think how much freedom and security we have enjoyed for a relatively small price and think about the risk we'd run as we go forward if we reduce too far, too fast. I want to thank the chairman and ranking member for making sure that didn't happen. I look forward to working with him to make sure sequestration doesn't occur. As he rightly points out, it would be devastating. We should pass this bill and then we should get about the longer-term challenge of making sure sequestration does not occur."