Cut the Defense Budget? Over My Cold, Dead GavelSubmitted by bravoseis on Tue, 11/16/2010 - 05:53
By Spencer Ackerman
November 15, 2010
When is budget growth not actual growth? When it comes to money flowing into the Pentagon slower than legislators would like.
In his first post-election speech, Rep. Buck McKeon, the California Republican who’s about to become the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, warned that cutting defense spending was a “red line for me and should be a red line for all Americans.” Speaking to the conservative Foreign Policy Institute in Washington, McKeon argued that the Pentagon’s projected one percent real growth in the defense budget over the next five years “is a net cut for investment and procurement accounts.”
There wasn’t such a high expectation for trimming the defense budget after the Republicans won back the House earlier this month. But after the bipartisan leaders of the White House’s deficit commission identified $100 billion in wasteful military spending, it appeared there might be some political momentum for cutting over-budget weapons and programs like the Marines’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and the Navy, Marines and Air Force’s F-35 fighter jet. McKeon did his best to stop any such momentum this afternoon.
“A defense budget in decline portends an America in decline,” McKeon said, arguing that cuts will have geopolitical consequences, “undermin[ing] our ability to project power, strengthen our adversaries and weaken our alliances.”
In his speech, McKeon embraced Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ “efficiencies initiative” to cut $100 billion in overhead costs and reinvest them in buying ships, guns, tanks and planes. But he didn’t identify any specific sources of waste that he would target in order to transfer “funds to higher national-security priorities and promising technologies of the future.” Instead, he warned that “whatever the intentions of Secretary Gates,” the White House would just pocket the savings from his initiative and either cut defense outright or spend the money on domestic priorities.
During a post-speech press conference, McKeon didn’t sound like he was out to cut any specific programs. He reminded reporters that he supports the funding of a second engine for the F-35, something both Obama and Gates consider unnecessary. With all the talk of cuts, he said, “pretty soon, my concern is that we end up back with a bow and arrow.”
Read the rest @: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/11/cut-the-defense-budg...