A majority of the American public wants budget cuts to come from the Defense Department budget, not from Medicare or Social Security, according to a new poll.
The poll asked: "If you had to choose one, which would you be willing to change in order to cut government spending." The poll was commissioned by the New York Times and CBS News.
As the Times' story says: "Nearly two-thirds of Americans choose higher payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security over reduced benefits in either program. And asked to choose among cuts to Medicare, Social Security or the nation’s third-largest spending program — the military — a majority by a large margin said cut the Pentagon."
This sets up a very interesting dynamic on Capitol Hill, where the first Pentagon budget hearings are set to begin in mid-February. In the House -- where the GOP rules but the Tea Party is still finding its feet and learning that seniority hath its privileges -- the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee has signaled clearly that he will resist any attempts to cut military spending below current levels. His GOP colleague, Rep. Todd Akin, chairman of the HASC seapower and projection forces subcommittee, has joine the chairman in decrying attempts -- or discussion -- about cutting the defense budget.
Few in the Senate --outside a Tea Party member or two -- have discussed defense budget levels, but the august body has been pretty consistent in resisting cuts. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made his preemptive strike on Jan. 6 to try and stave off defense cuts he can't control. Of course, President Obama will have the bully pulpit next week to address this issue during the State of the Union. Should be worth watching.