The Obama administration has given the Pentagon a $527 billion limit, excluding war costs, for its fiscal 2010 Defense budget, an Office of Management and Budget official said Monday. If enacted, that would be about $14 billion more than the $513 billion allocated for fiscal 2009 (PL 110-329), including military construction funds, and it would match what the Bush administration estimated last year for the Pentagon in fiscal 2010. But it sets up a potential conflict between the new administration and the Defense Department’s entrenched bureaucracy, which has remained largely intact through the presidential transition. Some Pentagon officials and congressional conservatives are already trying to portray the OMB number as a cut by comparing it with a $584 billion draft budget request compiled last fall by the Joint Chiefs of Staff for fiscal 2010.
I’ll concede that a 2.7 percent nominal increase is not a large increase. Whether this represents a real increase greater than 2.7 percent or less than 2.7 percent depends on whether we have deflation or inflation over the year. But what the Joint Chiefs of Staff had requested represented a 13.6 percent nominal increase.
Robert Kagan tried to argue:
Pentagon officials have leaked word that the Office of Management and Budget has ordered a 10 percent cut in defense spending for the coming fiscal year, giving Defense Secretary Robert Gates a substantially smaller budget than he requested.
The rest of Kagan’s op-ed claimed that President Obama wants to cut defense spending. I hear my boss wants to increase my pay by only 3 percent this year so maybe I should go into his office and request a 13 percent increase. That way – I can tell everyone he wants to cut my pay by 10 percent (as compared to my wish list).
If this had been a domestic spending program that got a 3 percent increase rather than a 13 percent increase and some liberal screamed “spending cuts”, one would think Tony Blankley would mock the liberal:
I have been told by sources at the Pentagon that they have been told to not expect full funding of all existing programs. And there is evidence that Obama has apparently been planning to force cuts on our military for some time.
Tony trusts his Pentagon sources? I guess he did not read Spencer Ackerman who first wrote:
Late last week, the White House Office of Management and Budget told the Pentagon to “substantial[ly]” restrain its planned fiscal 2010 budget, which the Bush administration beefed up by $60 billion over the 2009 budget before leaving office.
Here’s where it helps to have Defense Secretary Bob Gates impose some discipline. Getting eight percent more, outside the costs of the wars (!), during a time of global economic distress is, you know, really generous. An OMB official told Rogin that the Bush-drafted request was a “wish list” for conceivable defense spending — a classy little sayonara to the incoming Obama team — not a realistic budget. Gates has been telling anyone who will listen that the budget is coming down, hard choices are going to have to be made, and people are going to have to stop whining and reconcile themselves to this new reality. So it’ll be interesting to see if he starts with this budgetary gem. But! I hear that he may send OMB a letter objecting to the $527 billion (outside of the wars!) ceiling.
Note that Spencer wrote this two days ago – and yet Kagan misrepresented the story yesterday, while Blankley misrepresented it today.