Even a broken clock is right twice a day. Earlier this week, Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, came out against Paul Ryan’s views on defense, saying they were fiscally irresponsible.
“Other people need to lead the argument on how can conservatives lead a fight to have a serious national defense without wasting money,” Norquist told the Center for the National Interest. “I wouldn’t ask Ryan to be the reformer of the Defense establishment.”
He continues: “Richard Nixon said that America’s national defense needs are set in Moscow, meaning that we wouldn’t have to spend so much if they weren’t shooting at us. The guys who followed didn’t notice that the Soviet Union disappeared.”
This does not mean that Norquist isn’t a supporter of Ryan on other issues—he most certainly is. But it’s interesting to note this difference between two of the GOP’s leaders on economic policy. Norquist’s repudiation of Ryan’s position on defense exposes an inconsistency in Ryan’s belief that we must shrink government and cut unnecessary spending. Ryan espouses this view, but when it comes to defense, he—along with many other Republicans—advocate higher defense spending and resist calls to cut fat and increase efficiency at the notoriously wasteful Pentagon.
The onus is now on the Romney-Ryan team to explain this inconsistency and detail how they would pay for $2 trillion more in defense spending over the next decade. Agree or disagree with Norquist’s extreme economic views, but at least he’s consistent.