Friday, July 23, 2010

Maybe, Finally, Some Rational Defense Budgeting

Since 9/11, the Pentagon's budget has been rising 7% a year in real terms, and that's apart from the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Our military spending is now about equal to that of the entire rest of the world, and nine times greater than that of our closest challenger, China. We all knew Obama couldn't do anything about this in the short term, with wars going on and Republicans eager to charge him with softness and not supporting the troops. But it seems that all the fooferaw about the budget deficit, along with the winding of US fighting in Iraq, has provided the cover to at least talk about cutting the defense budget. The NY Times:

Lawmakers, administration officials and analysts said the combination of big budget deficits, the winding down of the war in Iraq and President Obama’s pledge to begin pulling troops from Afghanistan next year were leading Congress to contemplate reductions in Pentagon financing requests.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has sought to contain the budget-cutting demands by showing Congress and the White House that he can squeeze more efficiency from the Pentagon’s bureaucracy and weapons programs and use the savings to maintain fighting forces.

But the increased pressure is already showing up in efforts by Democrats in Congress to move more quickly than senior Pentagon officials had expected in trimming the administration’s budget request for next year.

And in the longer term, with concern mounting about the government’s $13 trillion debt, a bipartisan deficit-reduction commission is warning that cuts in military spending could be needed to help the nation dig out of its financial hole.

There is no conceivable scenario in which we actually need all of the aircraft carriers, submarines, missiles, bombers, and satellites we already have, let alone all the ones in development and production. Let's exercise a little sense here and save the money for things worth doing.

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