Paul Ryan Says He Misspoke on Pentagon Budget Criticism

Posted April 1, 2012 at 9:21am

House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan walked back criticism of Pentagon brass over the budget this morning, acknowledging errors in comments he made a few days ago knocking generals’ testimony about their requested budget.

“We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice,” the Wisconsin Republican had said Thursday. “I think there’s a lot of budget smoke and mirrors in the Pentagon’s budget.”

But this morning, Ryan stepped away from those remarks. “I totally misspoke. It was not the impression I meant to give. I talked to Gen. [Martin] Dempsey on it and expressed that sentiment,” he said on ABC’s “This Week,” referring to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“My issue is I think that the president’s budget on the Pentagon is a budget-driven strategy, not a strategy-driven budget. He announced the number of the cuts he wanted for the Pentagon, and then he began the strategy review to conform to that number,” Ryan said. “We take $300 billion out of defense spending versus the $500 billion that the president does in his budget. We think there are savings to be gotten there, but I think the president’s hollowing it out.”

Dempsey said he stood by his testimony.