Representative Paul Ryan said Sunday that he has apologized in a telephone call to the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman for accusing the military of not giving its “true advice’’ on President Obama’s budget plan.
Military generals are required under oath to provide lawmakers their personal views on security matters, even if those views conflict with the White House.At issue were comments Ryan made Thursday regarding the military budget.
In this case, General Martin Dempsey had testified that he thought Obama’s $614 billion plan for defense spending next year was adequate. Dempsey said he stood by his testimony, despite Ryan’s remarks.
“We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice,” he said at an event hosted by National Journal. “We don’t think the generals believe that their budget is really the right budget.”
In response, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Dempsey said he stood by his testimony on the Pentagon’s spending request. “There’s a difference between having someone say they don’t believe what you said versus. . . calling us, collectively, liars,” Dempsey told reporters Thursday night. “My response is: I stand by my testimony.”
On Sunday, Ryan said he was wrong for suggesting the generals were not on the up and up.
“I really misspoke,” Ryan said during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union.
“Yeah, I totally misspoke,” he said later on ABC’s This Week.
UPDATE: Maddow blog says he didn't "misspeak:"
...Ryan added that he perceives the Pentagon's budget as "a budget-driven strategy, not a strategy-driven budget.
Yesterday, Ryan used the identical language. How can someone claim he "totally misspoke" and then say the same thing again?
Ryan still thinks military leaders lied to Congress; he still thinks he knows better than the Pentagon what spending levels are necessary to keep America safe; and he still thinks Congress should give the Defense Department money the Pentagon doesn't want.
The only difference between Thursday and Sunday is that Ryan has stopped attacking U.S. military leaders and started attacking the president. But since it's the same attack, and this is a distinction without a difference, it's laughable for Ryan to say he "misspoke."