Dept of Defense leads in battle for lower federal spending

June 17, 2010

Last Month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke in Abilene, Kansas seeking to bring attention to the “gusher” of defense spending, largely related to the Pentagon’s budget. Here is an excerpt from Gates’s speech:

“The attacks of September 11th, 2001, opened a gusher of defense spending that nearly doubled the base budget over the last decade, not counting supplemental appropriations for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Which brings us to the situation we face and the choices we have today – as a defense department and as a country.  Given America’s difficult economic circumstances and parlous fiscal condition, military spending on things large and small can and should expect closer, harsher scrutiny.  The gusher has been turned off, and will stay off for a good period of time.”

On June 11th, 2010 a report from the Sustainable Defense Task Force, which is composed of Barney Frank (D, MA) appointees, outlined a variety of recommendations.  Gates and Frank are in accordance over making cuts to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, but Congress and the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) don’t appear to agree over all suggested $1T in cuts.

Larry Korb, a defense expert with the Center for American Progress who also participated in the Sustainable Debt Taskforce, is in accordance with Gates, remains skeptical of the cuts. From today’s Politico:

“So far, Gates’s plan to cut overhead costs just scratches the surface,” he said. The key issues are the ones Gates raised in speeches in Kansas and to the Navy League last month, including questioning the size of the aircraft carrier fleet and the need for the Marines’ Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. “Those are the questions you’ve got to deal with,” Korb said.

Other leaders in Washington should follow Gates’s lead and look for any and all possible spending cuts.

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