Top Republican: Raise Military Spending, Pass Balanced Budget Amendmen

Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.), the chair of the Readiness Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee

Called for an increase to the defense budget for the next fiscal year and said it is “gruesome” that Congress has not adopted a balanced budget amendment by now.

The House of Representatives recently passed a $578 billion military budget. President Donald Trump has proposed a military budget increase to $603 billion for FY2018. The national debt stands at $19.8 trillion and the deficit is currently $592 billion. The U.S. Constitution does not require Congress to balance the budget. A balanced budget amendment, as Wilson has called for, would prevent the federal government from spending more than it collects in revenue.

“To me, the debt levels we’ve achieved obviously have to be — and I only regret that my predecessor, the late Congressman Floyd Spence, the first legislation he introduced, and I am a cosponsor every year, is for a balanced budget requirement and so I will always try for that and that’s been picked up now by Congressman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia,” Wilson said, during a discussion at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, D.C.

Defense spending and entitlement programs currently make up the majority of the federal budget. Wilson also said that Congress must reform Medicare and Social Security for future generations.

“To me, with the entitlement programs that we have that have truly gotten out of control, we need to address the issues relative to Social Security. For people your age, we need to reform Social Security to provide where you have an option of a personal savings account with reduced Social Security benefits or remain in the system as it is,” he said to a young adult in the audience.

“But we’ve got to address, through prioritization, the spending programs that have just gotten out of control and are not sustainable and then, ultimately, back on Social Security, if it’s not changed, it won’t be there for you,” he added.

Wilson said a balanced budget amendment would be beneficial for America’s financial future.

“And I’m so grateful in the state Senate in most states — of my state and most states, there is a balanced budget requirement. It’s just gruesome that that hasn’t been in place for the federal government, for your future,” he said.

House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) and Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) have urged a military budget of $640 billion for FY2018.

“Again, with the leadership of both Chairman McCain and Mac Thornberry, Chairman Thornberry, with the input from Secretary Jim Mattis, with the capabilities of President Donald Trump, I believe that we can achieve the $640 [billion] and, sadly, as people see threats around the world, you know, it will become clearer than ever before that this needs to be addressed,” he said.

Wilson said there’s been almost a 21 percent reduction of military and defense expenditures since 2010, which has been “catastrophic” for military readiness.

“This is at the same time that threats are increasing around the world, but it’s virtually inconceivable, but there were false assumptions that — or maybe hopeful assumptions that have not come to fulfillment,” he said. “And so the overall reduction and it’s astronomical numbers of reductions, whether it be $484 billion here and $100 billion there and whatever, and this is before we get to sequestration, and what a nightmare that’s been under the Budget Control Act 2010.”

Wilson continued, “Indeed, it was intended to be catastrophic to defense so that it would be addressed. Well, it hasn’t been addressed but the consequence has been catastrophic for planning by our military, particularly for training and equipment readiness.”

A majority of 1,025 adult respondents in a CNN/ORC national poll conducted March 1-4 said they oppose increasing the defense budget by cutting other domestic programs (58 percent). According to the results of the poll, most respondents (79 percent) support increased federal spending on infrastructure projects.

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