Politicians: never believe a word that comes out of either side of their mouths:
Presidential candidate Bill Richardson: Cut nuclear weapons budget by 53
Gov. Bill Richardson: Increase the nuclear weapons budget by 4 percent
Friday, September 28, 2007
Guv Bill Vs. Candidate Bill; Nuke Budget Cuts, Boost Both Endorsed
By John Fleck and Jeff Jones
Copyright © 2007 Albuquerque Journal; Journal Staff Writers
Bill Richardson the presidential candidate says the U.S. nuclear weapons
budget should be slashed.
Bill Richardson the governor is fighting to prevent cuts to the same
program— which is one of the largest employers in New Mexico.
Gov. Richardson on Tuesday sent a letter to eight members of Congress
protesting a proposed 3.2 percent cut in the budget of the National Nuclear
Security Administration, which funds work at Sandia and Los Alamos national
labs in New Mexico. Together, the two nuclear weapons labs employ 22,000
people, most of them in New Mexico and the majority of them working on
nuclear weapons programs.
The threat to cut the labs' budgets, the governor wrote, "would signify
cuts to these most important national security resources."
As a Democratic presidential candidate Wednesday in New Hampshire,
Richardson issued a defense budget proposal that called for a 53 percent cut
in the same NNSA budget. The resulting $5 billion savings in nuclear weapons
spending are part of his plan to cut the defense budget by more than $57
billion a year.
The nuclear weapons budget cut, Richardson's presidential campaign
statement said, "will enhance our credibility as we lead global negotiations
to reduce the number of nuclear weapons."
Richardson campaign spokesman Tom Reynolds said the two positions are
not in conflict.
"The letter sent from Gov. Richardson's office, urging the Senate and
House Appropriations Committee to maintain funding levels at Los Alamos
National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories, fully complements the
proposal to refocus the Pentagon's budget and modernize the military,"
Reynolds said in a written statement.
Reynolds noted that the letter to Congress encourages spending at the
labs for border security, health research and renewable energies. "We wanted
lawmakers to realize the importance of retaining the many qualified
scientists and workers at the labs no matter what the mission may be in the
future," Reynolds said.
With his governor's hat on, Richardson is wading into a bitter fight
over Congress' annual Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which funds the
labs' nuclear weapons work as well as water and energy projects.
The House wants to cut the nuclear weapons budget, which could cost more
than 3,000 lab jobs. The Senate wants to increase the nuclear weapons
budget. In his letter, Richardson endorses the Senate's proposed spending
When it comes to his presidential campaign, his overall defense-cut plan
could pay vital political dividends.
The plan is in large part a spitting image of defense cuts being sought
by a political group aiming to play a major role in the Iowa presidential
caucuses— a make-or-break state for the governor's presidential push.
The Iowa Priorities Caucus Project, which is working to turn out 10,000
voters for the January caucuses, is advocating many of the same cuts
outlined by Richardson the presidential candidate.
Caucus Project state director Peggy Huppert said Thursday that
Richardson's new plan is, at least so far, the "most comprehensive statement
from a candidate addressing our issues."
Huppert said she believes presidential politics played a role in
Richardson's decision-making but added, "I also believe he thinks it's the
When asked what role politics played in the new defense plan, Reynolds
said the plan "is in lock step with Governor Richardson's long record of
building fiscally responsible budgets and eliminating waste and
The Iowa Priorities Caucus Project has become a well-known fixture at
Iowa political events this year, traveling around that state to ask all of
the presidential hopefuls— both Republicans and Democrats— their positions
on the defense budget.
The Caucus Project's plan to trim $60 billion in Pentagon spending is
based on a defense proposal by former Reagan administration official
Lawrence Korb— the very proposal that Richardson draws heavily from.
Many parts of Richardson's plan are identical to the Caucus Project's
plan for slashing the nation's nuclear stockpile from 10,000 warheads to
1,000 warheads, ending new nuclear-weapons programs, canceling a class of
submarines and scrubbing the CV-22 Osprey aircraft program.
The Caucus Project also supports ending the F-22 Raptor fighter jet
program, while Richardson is calling for a smaller order of those jets than
that the military has called for.
A bloc of 10,000 voters could make up as much as 10 percent of the
turnout for the Iowa caucuses, and the Caucus Project plans to endorse a
candidate on Nov. 9.
Meanwhile, Richardson's plan to "modernize the military" drew fire
Thursday from the New Mexico Republican Party.
The GOP— in a news release headlined "Alert: Bill Richardson Throws New
Mexicans Under the Bus!"— accused Richardson of trying to put thousands of
defense jobs on the chopping block and of pandering to a "far-left national
Reynolds in a statement said Richardson "continues to be the
hardest-working advocate for New Mexico and its residents. His record speaks