Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) and Ron Paul (R-Texas) are urging lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to push the President's Commission on Deficit Reduction for cuts in military spending, as they seek signatories to a letter circulated Tuesday.
The effort comes just a few months after Frank, chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, appointed his own bipartisan commission to look at ways to reduce America's bloated military budget.
The commission released a report in June, outlining how to cut $1 trillion in defense budget and reduce the deficit over the next decade, without compromising national security.
The "most important part of the report," Frank said in a statement Tuesday "is that we cannot achieve the necessary spending reductions simply by becoming more efficient in what we do, although that is obviously essential. It is imperative that we also reduce the overreach of America's military involvement in parts of the world where we have no legitimate security interest and in fact often do more harm than good because of the political reaction to our intervention in difficult situations. We do not honor the brave men and women of our armed forces when civilian officials insert them into situations where their presence in not appropriate."
The Department of Defense currently takes up 56 percent of all discretionary federal spending, and lawmakers say it accounts for nearly 65 percent of the increase in annual discretionary spending levels since 2001.
In the letter, Frank and Paul emphasize that they are not urging for reductions "that in any way cut resources and supplies necessary to protect American troops in the field" and that they "are opposed to cuts in services and increased fees for our veterans and military retirees." Rather they support reducing the number of overseas bases, especially in the wealthy nations of Western Europe and Japan.
A spokesman for Frank says the letter currently has fewer than 10 cosigners, and though the Commission on Deficit Reduction has paid some lip service to the idea, there's no clear indication that the requisite 14 of the group's 18 members will agree on anything regarding defense cuts.
But Frank and Paul remain optimistic, saying the idea is gaining traction. Watch Ron Paul discuss why he supports cuts in military spending.