Ryan: Obama call for defense cuts sends wrong signal

Rep. Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanAEI names Robert Doar as new president GOP can't excommunicate King and ignore Trump playing to white supremacy and racism House vote fails to quell storm surrounding Steve King MORE (R-Wis.) is blasting President Obama's call for cuts to defense spending, arguing they would "devastate" the Pentagon at a time of war.

Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, offered support for Obama's airstrikes and plan to arm Syrian rebel groups, but said the president's proposed cuts to military spending are coming at the wrong time.

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“The thing that comes to my mind is, why is he proposing a budget to devastate the Pentagon? Why is he proposing to shrink our Army to a level we haven’t seen since pre-WW2, our Navy since pre-WW1, and our Air Force to the lowest level we’ve ever seen before?” Ryan said on “CBS This Morning.”

“So, the facts of his policies don’t necessarily jive with what he’s saying,” Ryan said, adding, “we ought to have the kind of military that can do what he says we’re capable of or should be doing.” 

The 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee said he agreed with Obama's comments that the United States underestimated the threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and he argued that other mistakes made by the administration exacerbated ISIS's growth.

He said the administration should have armed Syrian rebel groups earlier, and he faulted Obama for not getting an agreement with Iraq allowing more U.S. troops to stay in the country.

With the Iraq war apparently over and the war in Afghanistan winding down, Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget request for the Defense Department’s overseas contingency operations (OCO), known as the war fund, was $58.6 billion, down from $79.4 billion the administration requested for 2014.

Obama’s overall fiscal 2015 budget request for the Pentagon was $495.6 billion — $4 billion less than fiscal 2014 spending.

Congress has not had to deal with the 2015 requests yet since lawmakers passed a stopgap spending bill earlier this month that funds the government through Dec. 11 at fiscal 2014 levels.

The bill allows the administration to pay for overseas operations through the Pentagon and State Department at a rate of $81 billion.

Obama’s earlier moves to push the Pentagon off of its war footing came before the U.S. intervened militarily against ISIS.

The White House has not yet said whether it would ask Congress for more money to fund anti-ISIS operations, but experts have said it will need to.

Last week, the Pentagon said military operations against ISIS cost between $7 to $10 million per day.

A new report published Monday, however, by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, predicts the war’s price tag could eventually be $2.4 billion to $22 billion per year.

— Updated at 11:13 a.m.