The Houston Chronicle

Tea partiers say defense in mix for budget cuts
The Houston Chronicle

Back home, tea partiers clamoring for the debt-ridden government to slash spending say nothing should be off limits. Tea party-backed lawmakers echo that argument, and they’re not exempting the military’s multibillion-dollar budget in a time of war.

« The widely held sentiment among Tea Party Patriot members is that every item in the budget, including military spending and foreign aid, must be on the table, » said Mark Meckler, co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots. « It is time to get serious about preserving the country for our posterity. The mentality that certain programs are ‘off the table’ must be taken off the table. »

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe, leaders of the group FreedomWorks, recently wrote in a Wall Street Journal editorial that « defense spending should not be exempt from scrutiny. » On Gates’ proposed savings of $145 billion over five years, they said, « That’s a start. »

« Everything is ultimately on the table, » said Rep. Jon Runyan of New Jersey, a freshman Republican and a tea party favorite.

In an unusual political pairing, liberal Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, a libertarian and former Republican presidential candidate, have joined forces in pushing for substantial reductions in the defense budget, including closing some of the 600-plus military bases overseas.