Think tank to Obama: Defense budget not your domestic ATM

The conservative Heritage Foundation is taking umbrage with President Obama’s statement that Defense dollars can be used to finance domestic programs.

At issue is a comment the president made in response to a question during his Wednesday Twitter town hall about Defense cuts.

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“The nice thing about the defense budget is it’s so big, it’s so huge, that a 1 percent reduction is the equivalent of the education budget,” Obama said, immediately noting he was “exaggerating” the exact numbers.

“But it’s so big that you can make relatively modest changes to defense that end up giving you a lot of head room to fund things like basic research or student loans or things like that,” the president said.

But pro-defense conservatives like the military analysts at Heritage are fearing even bigger national security spending cuts in a debt-ceiling deal than Obama’s already ordered $400 billion by 2023.

And they did not like Obama’s comment one bit.

“Think again, Mr. President,” Mike Brownfield, Heritage’s assistant director of strategic communications, wrote on the think tank’s The Foundry blog. “Contrary to Obama’s belief, the defense budget is not an ATM from which he can pull cash to pay for other projects. And he certainly can’t do it without causing ... damage to U.S. military readiness.

“Contrary to his wildly exaggerated statement, a 1 percent reduction to the Pentagon’s proposed fiscal year 2012 base budget would be $5.5 billion—or 7 percent of the Department of Education’s proposed FY 2012 budget,” wrote Brownfield.

“The president’s accounting failures aside, there’s an even bigger problem at work,” Brownfield wrote. “Obama is of the belief that, for starters, $400 billion can be cut from the defense budget over the next 10 years without putting the military at risk” on top of cuts already made to the Pentagon budget in recent budget cycles, he added.

The Heritage writer faults Obama for wanting to “take those dollars and apply them to pay for his pet projects at home,” adding that it appears “the President is proposing those cuts irrespective of the military’s needs.”