During his opening remarks at today's House Budget Committee hearing on the Department of Defense and the 2014 budget, Paul Ryan said, "The first duty of government is to keep us safe. And to keep us safe, our strategy should drive our budget. But under this administration, the budget is driving the strategy."
With Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, there to testify, Ryan continued:
"Last year, Secretary Panetta made a budget request [that] he said was the minimum necessary to execute the President’s strategy. He said there was 'little room' for cuts if we wanted our troops to fulfill their mission.
"This year’s budget request covers the same mission. But over the next ten years, it’s about $120 billion lower than last year’s request. And so far, there’s been no explanation. Have we changed our strategy?
"Now, the Defense department isn’t immune to waste. There’s room for improvement. Every agency must use taxpayer dollars wisely....
"The Defense Business Board has suggested a number of ways to improve the department. I want to commend their hard work—and encourage you to act on their recommendations.
"That said, national security is a priority. Defense has borne half the burden of deficit reduction. And the President wants to cut even more. This year, the House budget provides the same amount of defense funding the President requested last year. Yet the President opposes our proposal. The President is holding the defense budget hostage for higher taxes and more spending.
"These days, every part of government needs to be more efficient. But even as we try to cut the fat, we have to be sure not to cut bone."