When Democrats accuse Republicans of cutting spending, it’s almost never an actual cut (honestly, does anyone really believe Washington ever reduces spending? That $18 trillion debt doesn’t keep growing all by itself).
Washington spending goes up on most things most years. It’s the Washington norm. For fiscal conservatives it’s a never-ending nightmare.
Paul Ryan’s recent budget deal adds $1.1 trillion to our national debt. Rand Paul and Ted Cruz voted against the budget deal.
Which makes Rubio’s latest attack on Paul and Cruz (each senator is seeking the Republican presidential nomination) even more interesting.
Rubio says Cruz’s vote in favor of Paul’s 2013 budget means that Cruz, just like Paul, supported defense cuts. Rubio is trying to say that Cruz and Paul are weak on defense because they supported cuts in 2013.
1. They didn’t vote for actual “cuts” (more on that momentarily).
2. Rubio’s rhetoric only proves how weak he is as a fiscal conservative.
PolitiFact investigated Rubio’s claim, rating it “Mostly False,” (emphasis added):
Rubio’s campaign pointed to Cruz’s 2013 vote in favor of a budget proposal by U.S. Sen. Rand Paul…
Under Paul’s proposal, defense appropriations would have gone from $521 billion in 2014 to $634 billion in 2023. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, meanwhile, projected $588 billion in defense appropriations in 2014 to $731 billion in 2023. That means that Paul actually increased year-over-year defense spending, though it did not keep pace with estimated projections to sustain current defense levels.
PolitiFact asked “Was Paul’s proposal a ‘cut’ for defense?” (emphasis added):
So why did Rubio refer to Paul’s budget as a “cut” if defense spending would rise?..
…experts questioned whether Rubio can call Paul’s proposal a “cut.”
Christopher Preble, at the libertarian Cato Institute, said he would not call Paul’s budget a “cut.”
“As is typical in Washington-speak, a less-than-expected increase is often cast as a cut,” he said. “This is misleading.”
Cruz spokesman Brian Phillips made a similar argument.
“So it sounds like Rubio is engaging in the time-honored Washington cartel tactic of budget gimmickry and is suggesting that a reduction in the rate of increase is equal to a ‘cut’ when in fact the Obama and Paul budgets spend more on defense every year,” Phillips said. “The fact is, in supporting the Paul budget, Cruz did not support a cut in defense spending, but a more responsible rate of increase.”
Calling a decrease in already planned spending increases is not a “cut.” This really is just Washington-speak, as Preble notes.
Mathematically, any increase in spending is never a” cut.” But it is what liberals often call a “cut.”
It is what Marco Rubio is calling a “cut.”
Disclosure: I co-authored Senator Rand Paul’s 2011 book The Tea Party Goes to Washington.