It’s no secret that libertarians want to cut defense spending and are largely skeptical of the foreign policy of the Republican Party. During the George W. Bush administration, some of its most vocal foreign policy critics came from the libertarian corner.
That deep-seated division played out for everyone Tuesday night at The Washington Times‘ 30th anniversary dinner party when Fox Business host John Stossel took a slight jab at former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld while introducing the former Bush official’s keynote address.
Rather than heap the requisite praise upon Rumsfeld, outspoken libertarian (and full disclosure: my former boss) Stossel said he didn’t know why he was assigned to introduce Rumsfeld because “I’m very skeptical of our involvement in many parts of the world.”
“We’re going broke. Can we afford to keep spending 600 billion dollars on our military?” he reportedly continued on during the introduction. Stossel has long been a critic of bloated government spending on all things — from entitlements to the military to free golf-carts.
Eventually, when Rumsfeld took the stage to deliver his keynote, he took a shot back at Stossel, saying, “Nobody’s perfect.”
His speech was reportedly a criticism of President Barack Obama‘s foreign policy in the Middle East followed up with a sharp criticism of those who want to “blindly cut some 1 trillion dollars from the defense budget over the coming decade.” At that point,U.S. News reports, the Secretary turned his focus to Stossel’s earlier remarks:
“I must say, John, with respect to your introduction,” he said, “there is no question that every big government bureaucracy is bloated and has waste.” Rumsfeld argued that the United States had improved on defense spending, however, as the Kennedy and Johnson administrations of the 1960s had spent 10 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, while the United States was spending only 4 percent today. Rumsfeld did not mention that the GDP has grown substantially since the 1960s.
“Any implication the monstrous debt and the monstrous deficits are a result of defense spending is just flat wrong… Go where the money is—it’s in the entitlements,” Rumsfeld finished, raising the volume of his voice as he blamed government entitlement programs for America’s debt problem. “Not in defense.” Members of the audience nodded in agreement.
Stossel later took the stage again to introduce another speaker, but made no mention of Rumsfeld’s response.
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