RJC and Dems: ‘Tis the season to be fact-checked


 We wrote the other day about the Free Beacon’s scoop on two top House Republicans expressing their concern about proposed Obama administration cuts to missile defense.

The plaint didn’t make much sense — Bush’s proposed cuts to the same program were more substantial, and Congress did what it has done for seeming eons, and what it will do in this case, and restored them, and then some.

That didn’t stop the Republican Jewish Coalition from running with it in this web ad:

Is cutting $6 million from a $106 million budget "dramatic"?

Anyhoo. The claim still rings bogus on the truthiness meter, but so does another from the National Jewish Democratic Council Democrats — that Obama deserves kudos for sticking to a contractual agreement to incrementally hike defense assistance. *I corrected this because NJDC has been more careful than the Dems in general — see below.


The AP’s Donna Cassata utterly demolishes the RJC claim:

The sudden GOP outcry over the missile defense request one day after Obama released his proposal belied the fact that the administration had told Congress how much it wanted – last year.

In its 2012 budget, the administration spelled out future requests for the U.S.-Israeli missile defense program, a typical practice for defense budgets – $99.8 million in fiscal 2013, $95.7 million in 2014, $96.8 million in 2015, $103.9 million in 2016 and $106 million in 2017.

The $6 million cut in Obama’s request, a small amount in a $614 billion defense budget, is part of the deeper reductions in projected military spending dictated by the deficit-cutting plan that the president and congressional Republicans, including Ros-Lehtinen and McKeon, backed last August.

Since 1988 and the early days of U.S.-Israeli cooperation on the program, a certain congressional truth has held through Republican and Democratic administrations. Commanders in chief propose a specific amount for the missile defense program knowing full well that Israel will contact members of Congress and ask that they come up with more money. Congress routinely complies.

Last year, lawmakers took the $106 million request and added millions more, providing $216 million. Congressional aides have no doubt that lawmakers will do the same this year.

Incidentally, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta answered the two GOP lawmakers, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) and Rep. Howard Mckeon (R-Calif.).

In a letter I snagged (but oddly, that remains unreleased from the two congresspersons), Panetta notes that the total $450 million requested for missile defense from 2010-2013 plus the $205 million set aside for Iron Dome, the short range anti-missile program, totals $655 million — more than doubles what the George W. Bush administration had projected for the same period, $305 million.

And he adds:

These funding levels do not include amounts expended by the U.S. for operations and exercises in support of Israel’s security. For missile defense, our robust operational cooperation entails significant financial commitments, including the operation of the X-band missile defense radar currently deployed in Israel.

The Democrats’ sin is one of omission. In a letter to followers countering the RJC-led blitz, Ira Forman, campaign Obama’s Jewish outreach honcho, trots out the "largest-ever" meme:

President Obama’s 2013 budget provides the largest aid package to Israel in U.S. history: $3.1 billion to assure Israel is able to maintain its qualitative military edge.

Forman’s claim (incidentally echoed by Cassata) is deftly done: The wording doesn’t quite attribute the figure to Obama, but that’s the impression it leaves.

In fact, the figure is part of a 10-year package shaped by the Bush administration in 2007. (The NJDC, to its credit, does note the 2007 MOU, at the end of its release, but also conveys the notion that Obama deserves kudos for just sticking to its terms.)

Insinuating a claim to contractually mandated incremental hikes is like a car salesman who says, "Hey, stick with me, you can ask folks — I won’t stiff ya!"

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