Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 6, 2011

GATES SEEKS $78 BILLION IN CUTS TO PENTAGON BUDGET.... As far as the House Republican leadership is concerned, lawmakers have to slash federal spending -- but the defense budget, well over a half-trillion dollars, should be considered off-limits.

The Secretary of Defense disagrees.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates Thursday told Congress the administration is seeking $78 billion in cuts to the Defense budget over the next five years on top of $100 billion in efficiencies.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said after the morning briefing that he was deeply concerned about the surprising depth of the spending cuts. [...]

The depth of the cuts exceeded that predicted by defense analysts and appear to show the seriousness with which the White House is pursuing deficit reduction. [...]

Incoming Defense Appropriations subcommittee chairman Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla.) said after the meeting he was concerned about how the cuts will affect the troops and wanted to know more about how the services would be able to keep the savings they identify because the process was not detailed by Gates.

Oh, now GOP lawmakers want to hear more about the consequences of spending cuts.

It's very common for Congress to spend billions on defense programs the Pentagon doesn't want, but Gates has already made clear he wants to scrap a $14 billion Marine Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle, delay the F-35, and consider doing away with the Slamraam missile.

The test, ironically, will be whether Republicans accuse the Obama administration of pursuing too many spending cuts.

It should be interesting. In the lead up to the midterm elections, the issue divided Republicans to a surprising degree. On the one hand, a contingent led by Marco Rubio, Sarah Palin, John Bolton and Bill Kristol, among others, have called for massive spending cuts, just so long as policymakers agree to put a fence around the Pentagon budget so it's protected.

On the Hill, however, Republican Sens. Tom Coburn (Okla.), Mark Kirk (Ill.), Rand Paul (Ky.), Pat Toomey (Pa.), Bob Corker (Tenn.), and Johnny Isakson (Ga.) have all agreed that Pentagon spending should be on the table. House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has said the same thing.

The United States now spends about as much on defense as every other country on the planet combined. Whether Republicans consider every penny entirely necessary will be evident soon enough.

Steve Benen 3:35 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (15)

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I saw some tool driving in front of me with a bumper sticker that said something along the lines that he prays for all public schools to become private schools so we can spend more on stealth bombers.

I wonder what his position on the defense cuts are?

Posted by: mikefromArlington on January 6, 2011 at 3:45 PM | PERMALINK

I've been surprised how good Gates has been. Good for Obama for keeping him on.

Posted by: Rathskeller on January 6, 2011 at 3:47 PM | PERMALINK

Lol holy crap this is what spending cuts look like? I can't do real spending cuts just hypothetical 100 billion dollar cuts. Well here's real 178 billion dollar cuts at you. And what bs he spouts with that How will it effect the troops crap.

Posted by: allamr18 on January 6, 2011 at 3:51 PM | PERMALINK

Military spending is stimulus. It's just stimulus that doesn't result in a more competitive, or more productive economy. But it does stimulate. All those jobs connected to building things the Pentagon doesn't need? Yep, GOVERNMENT-created jobs!

We can talk ourselves blue about the shameless hypocrisy of Republicans. But the truth is never far from their performance art. It's all about redirecting government spending from the future to the past, from the working and middle classes to the oligarchy, and from an economy that works for everyone to one that works for a few - their corporate paymasters.

Posted by: walt on January 6, 2011 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

That those clowns would consider the military budget "off limits" shows so much what hypocritical, compromised clowns those Rebaglican "deficit hawks" (deficit weasels) really are.

BTW Steve, webmaster: could we do w/o that pop up from http://c5.zedo.com//ads2/f/873113/3840/0/0/305004062/305004062/0/305/1344/zz-V2-1X1.html?a=s%3D1344%3Bg%3D172%3Bm%3D117%3Bw%3D49%3Bu%3DV1IbTVJICWbZJQkdGSOcYdw6~122910%3Bi%3D0%3B;l=;p= ?

Posted by: Neil B on January 6, 2011 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

At one time the Brits had a policy to maintain a navy as large as the #2 and #3 navies. We should adopt something similar: We'll spend only as much on defense as the amount spent by the next two largest defense budgets. Let the paranoids among us divy it up as they want.

Posted by: Seould on January 6, 2011 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Just a quick note on editing: SLAMRAAM is properly written in all caps since it's an acronym. Specifically it stands for Surface Launched Advanced Medium Ranged Air to Air Missile, yes I know that's an oxymoron but it stems from the fact that it's a surfaced launched version of the very successful AMRAAM that's loaded on every fighter the US flies.

Posted by: Nied on January 6, 2011 at 4:14 PM | PERMALINK

Roads, schools, sewer systems last 25-50-100 years. Bombs and bullets, once used, need immediate replacement. Guess who has the more powerful lobby?

Posted by: DAY on January 6, 2011 at 4:26 PM | PERMALINK

Oh, THIS should be fun to watch.

Posted by: gf120581 on January 6, 2011 at 4:28 PM | PERMALINK

None of this matters as much as the fact that the GOP was able to force Obama off his economic stimulus priority, and onto deficit reduction. Nobody really expected any success on it, and if achieved, it'll be a bonus because the GOP will say, see what happens when the president listens to Republicans? They managed to make him drop his own agenda in favour of theirs, and any way you look at it, it's a success for them. Remember, everything is "good news for Republicans".

Posted by: Mark on January 6, 2011 at 4:45 PM | PERMALINK

Good grief, I keep bouncing $78 billion in defense cuts and and $800 billion the wealthy elite tax cuts around in my head trying to find some kind of balance or solace,---unsuccessfully.

Posted by: -syzygy- on January 6, 2011 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Syzygy-as I understand it, the $800 billion upper income tax cuts number was a ten-year figure, while presumably the $78 billion in defense cuts are a one-year figure, so the numbers are actually more balanced than they appear at first.

Posted by: danimal on January 6, 2011 at 6:05 PM | PERMALINK

Gates was on PBS Newshour saying that the Pentagon budget is not a major part of the deficit problem. Cheney/Rumsfeld started the outsourcing goldmine. We spend as much on the military as the rest of the world combined and it isn't a significant problem. WTF? When I was in the Marine Corps, we had cooks and bakers. Now every freaking thing is outsourced which is why we have more contractors than military service personnel in every theater. Maybe we need to go back to every branch having cooks and bakers and every other little thing done away in the move to outsource everything. Where will it stop? Why not just do away with the military and hire mercenaries like Blackwater/Xe. And you know what, cooks and bakers have job training for when they get out of the service since practically the only thing we manufacture anymore is hamburgers, fat people and prison inmates.

Posted by: tko on January 6, 2011 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

danimal, the article says the $78 billion was a 5-year figure. While it doesn't says so directly, it would appear that the $78 billion is in program and/or weapon system cuts while the $100 billion in "efficiencies" over the same period refers to finding ways to do the same things and make the same purchases for less money.

Posted by: tanstaafl on January 6, 2011 at 7:56 PM | PERMALINK

Don't Get Too Optimistic

According to NPR, the "cuts" are just cutting unnecessary programs. The Pentagon still gets to keep the money, apparently with no strings.

So these are "cuts" that do not result in decreased spending. The NPR analysts agreed that Gates is some kinda (evil) genius for coming up with this strategy.

Posted by: zandru on January 7, 2011 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK



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