The 99-page "Path to Prosperity" plan released today by House Budget chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) doesn't mention international diplomacy or development even once. But corresponding budget charts obtained by The Cable show that Ryan is proposing huge cuts in the international affairs accounts over the next decade.
"With American men and women in uniform currently engaged with a fierce enemy and dealing with emerging threats around the world, this budget takes several steps to ensure that national security remains government's top priority," reads the plan, which touts ever-rising military budgets and an effort to avoid the defense "trigger" by taking more money out of entitlement programs.
"Congress has no higher responsibility than to ensure that the President has available all the tools necessary to protect the national security. This budget meets that responsibility," the document reads.
But apparently Ryan does not believe diplomacy and development are part of that tool kit, because his proposal would see the international affairs account slashed from $47.8 billion in fiscal 2012 to $43.1 billion in fiscal 2013, $40.1 billion in fiscal 2014, $38.3 billion in fiscal 2015, and $38.1 billion in fiscal 2016. The State Department and USAID wouldn't see their budget get back to current levels until after 2022 if Ryan were to have his way.
Meanwhile, the national defense part of the budget would rise from $561 billion to $603 billion over the same timeframe, according to Ryan's plan.
"The Ryan budget fails to recognize that diplomacy and development are essential to protecting our national security, alongside defense," said House Foreign Affairs Committee ranking member Howard Berman (D-CA). "In his own words, Chairman Ryan sets up a choice: ‘decline as a world power vs. renewed American leadership.' But by viewing the choice exclusively in terms of military spending, he cuts the very resources that would make strong and effective U.S. international leadership a reality. The Republican budget would take us down the road of decline as a world power."
Both the State Department and the Defense Department get a significant portion of their funding these days from the Overseas Contingency Operations accounts, meant to be temporary and emergency funding for the war on terror. But under Ryan's plan, that funding would be reduced from $127 billion this year to $96.8 billion next year.
After that, Ryan's budget places the war costs at $44 billion each year until 2022, with no explanation whatsoever given for the analytical basis of that number.
And Ryan's proposal to cut one out of every 10 federal workers could also have a severely negative effect on national defense if it was ever implemented, because a huge proportion of federal employees work for defense-related agencies.
Joseph Beaudoin, president of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE), said in a statement today that the Ryan plan would cost the national security bureaucracy 100,000 jobs.
"Chairman Ryan's belief that it is permissible to penalize middle-class federal workers, who protect Americans and keep our nation moving forward, is frightening. Whatever happened to 'shared sacrifice'? What does he hope to gain by prolonging pay freezes, pinching paychecks, and eliminating employees, including those who inspect the safety of our food and nuclear power plants?" he said. "It's worth remembering that losing one in 10 federal workers means losing more than 100,000 employees at the U.S. Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Justice and Homeland Security."
John Hudson reports on national security and foreign policy from the Pentagon to Foggy Bottom, the White House to Embassy Row, for The Cable.