If the committee charged with reducing the federal deficit fails to put forward a viable plan, Rep. Ron Paul says Congress won't allow the resulting automatic budget cuts to proceed.
The reason? The cuts threaten the military budget.
"The sentiment is very strong, both right and left," he said this morning at an event sponsored by the libertarian Cato Institute. "They're obsessed with militarism; they're obsessed with more wars; they're obsessed with our foreign policy."
Any talk to the contrary is only superficial, Paul said, with the exception of "a handful of Republicans and a dozen or two of Democrats" who he indicated have shown restraint in foreign policy.
Paul pointed to President George W. Bush as an example, explaining that some people—like Bush when he was campaigning—say they want a humble foreign policy and to reign in nation-building and the policing of the world.
But such policies, Paul said, are "exactly what they want. It's what they do."
The so-called super committee came as part of an August deal to raise the federal debt ceiling. If the group fails to figure out how to save $1.5 trillion over the next decade by its November 23 deadline, the federal budget faces an automatic $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts.
That is, unless Congress decides to remove the trigger altogether.
Already Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain has indicated he would fight military cuts.
"I'm afraid McCain would win the vote," Paul said.
And since Democrats are pushing back—canceling defense cuts would probably mean more cuts in domestic programs popular with Democrats—it's likely a renewed budget fight would ensue.
Even if Congress lets the cuts go into effect, Paul considers them puny since they would be spread out over 10 years instead of all in one year. He said members of Congress are in denial if they think that will solve the nation's fiscal problems.
"But I think the American people know there's big trouble," he said. "Meanwhile, politicians are still fiddling while the country burns."