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March 19, 2004
AP Attacks Kerry on Defense Spending, Temperature in Hell Reportedly Dropping

The John Kerry Week From Hell continues this afternoon with an additional slam from an unlikely source. The AP's John Solomon analyzes Kerry's proposed $43B defense-spending cuts from 1994 and opens another wound in Kerry's flank:

When John Kerry offered a surprise plan to trim $43 billion in spending a decade ago, he encountered some harsh resistance: The cuts would threaten national security. U.S. fighter pilots would be endangered. And the battle against terrorism would be hampered, opponents charged.

And that's just what Kerry's fellow Democrats had to say.

Solomon details the response from prominent Democrats in the Senate at the time, and they were hardly complimentary to the future Presidential candidate:

"We are putting blindfolds over our pilots' eyes," Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, a decorated World War II veteran, said of the impact of Kerry's proposed intelligence cuts...

"The amendment offered by the senator from Massachusetts would reduce the fiscal year 1994 budget for national defense by nearly $4 billion," said Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., then the powerful Appropriations Committee chairman. "We have already cut defense spending drastically. ... Cutting another $4 billion is simply unwise and insupportable." ...

Sen. Dennis DeConcini, D-Ariz., then the Intelligence Committee chairman, took Kerry to task at the time for reducing intelligence spending by $6 billion over six years, saying it would leave Americans vulnerable while facing problems such as the war in Bosnia, nuclear proliferation and terrorism.

"It makes no sense for us to close our eyes and ears to developments around the world," he said, wondering aloud why Kerry didn't raise the idea of his cuts with the committee first.

It seems that Kerry, in his usual high-handed manner, unveiled this proposal in the Senate instead of in committee as is the custom, and also without consulting his colleagues on either side of the aisle. Not surprisingly, Kerry's proposal went screaming to defeat, 75-20. The bill, Amendment 1452 for the Senate dated 2/9/94, rescinded the following funds, in millions:

Selective Service: $15 million and program termination
Trident Missile system: $1130 million and program termination
Follow-On Early Warning System: $100 million and program termination
Ballistic Missile Defense: $900 million
Armed Forces recruiting: $33 million
Titan IV missile system: $350 million
National Foreign Intelligence Program and the Tactical Intelligence and Related Activities (DoD): $1000 million and a five-year freeze at the new spending level
Space Station Freedom: $900 million and program termination
Nuclear weapons research and testing: $900 million and a cap of 4,000 nuclear warheads regardless of treaties.
Forced reductions in the Navy's P-3 Antisubmarine program

It doesn't sound like Kerry was terribly concerned with the defense of the US, providing a striking departure even from Democrats like Robert Byrd. He didn't know what he was talking about then, although he certainly had no problem grandstanding, and it appears he hasn't learned much since. (References and other discussion can be found at Citizen Smash, as well.)

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 19, 2004 3:58 PM

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