John McCain weighs in on Paul Ryan budget (video)

In his 2012 budget, Rep. Paul Ryan (R) spared the Pentagon from huge budget cuts in the years ahead. Sen. John McCain says he mostly agrees with that decision.

Michael Bonfigli / The Christian Science Monitor
Senator John McCain, ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee speaks to reporters at a Monitor-sponsored breakfast in Washington, April 6.

John McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, argued against including defense spending cuts in efforts to trim the federal budget deficit but said he was “frustrated and angry” about how the Pentagon spends money.

At a Monitor-sponsored breakfast for reporters on Wednesday, Senator McCain was asked whether it was a mistake for Rep. Paul Ryan not to have included defense spending cuts in the sweeping budget plan he unveiled on Tuesday. Before entering politics, McCain was a career Navy officer.

“I would be very reluctant to cut defense spending until we see really how these two conflicts we are in are going to come out, and what the implications of this latest Arab spring are,” McCain said.

Defense Department procurement practices risk losing "credibility with the American people,” he said, referring to a study finding that "the Army wasted an average of $3.4 billion a year on programs that came to nothing."

McCain cited the case of the Medium Extended Air Defense System (MEADS). The Army has decided not to go forward with the missile defense system. “We are going to spend $800 million more even though we are not going to build the project,” he said. “It would cost $800 million more to terminate the contract.”

A visibly exasperated McCain said, “They screw up a contract beyond belief, we decide not to buy the product, and yet we are still paying for the product. Where else in America is that kind of deal available? It’s nuts.”

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