Tom Coburn Counters John McCain's Claim That Defense Spending Cuts Signify 'Isolationism'

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), a public proponent of cutting military spending as a vehicle to balance budgets, took aim Tuesday at Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) recent worry that his incoming colleagues, particularly Kentucky's Rand Paul, would be too quick to embrace "protectionism and isolationism" in their willingness to cut the defense budget.

"It's not hard to cut the defense budget and keep our defense exactly where it is," Coburn told The Cable. "That's how much waste is over there. Nothing is sacrosanct, it can't be. As a matter of fact, the way the Defense Department is run now, we're actually getting less bang for the buck. If we trim it down, we'll get more bang for the buck."

On Monday, McCain spoke at the Foreign Policy Initiative, a D.C.-based think tank, about what he saw as a forthcoming conflict over how to tackle the debt and deficit issue.

"I think there are going to be some tensions within our party," McCain said, pointing to Senator-elect Rand Paul's view, past and present, that defense spending cuts should be on the table.

Coburn's refusal to accept McCain's diagnosis is not out of character, as the Oklahoma Senator has been quite resolute in his determination to assess the slashing of the military's budget.

Coburn recently penned an op-ed to his GOP Senate colleagues that proposed, among other things, "freezing defense spending until the Pentagon can pass an audit and remove all nondefense spending from the Pentagon's budget."