Romney's military spending catch-22

GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Mitt Romney is trying to have it both ways on Pentagon spending.

The top-tier Republican presidential candidate pledged Friday to cut wasteful spending from the Defense Department and use the savings to support U.S. troops and veterans.

"I will not look for the military as a place to balance our budget," Romney told veterans who chatted with him over lunch at a local barbeque restaurant.

Romney's frame on the issue allows him to position himself as both a deficit hawk and military hawk. But his position takes billions of dollars off the table as Washington struggles to tame mounting debt.

Experts agree that the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have made the rate of defense spending unsustainable, and that Pentagon cuts must be part of any deficit solution. Indeed, deep Pentagon cuts are in order if a special congressional committee cannot agree on a deficit-reduction package by Thanksgiving.

Playing to his conservative audience, Romney's remarks lacked such context.

"I believe our military continues to be critical to protect our freedom. I do not see the world a safer place," Romney told veterans seated at wooden tables arranged in horseshoe formation to make the gathering suitable for TV.

"That does not mean there is not waste in our military system. There is," Romney said. "Anybody who spends any time with the government knows there is opportunity for improvement."

Citing no specifics, Romney said he would root out waste in the Pentagon and use the savings to rebuild the Navy and Air Force, maintain a force of 100,000 troops, and care for veterans.

State polls show that Romney has a serious chance of winning this state, though his record as a moderate governor and his Mormon faith are hurdles in a state that mixes conservatism and Christianity with its politics.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.