Obama plans 8% increase in defense budget?

posted at 4:48 pm on February 2, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

According to Congressional Quarterly, Fox News got its story wrong on Obama’s planned defense spending.  This weekend, Fox reported an Obama mandate of ten percent reductions across the board.  CQ reports that Obama has given Defense Secretary Robert Gates an upper limit of $527 billion for non-war spending in FY2010 — which would be an 8% increase in defense spending:

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 an 8 percent increase from the $487.7 billion allocated for fiscal 2009 (PL 110-329), 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 to a $584 billion draft fiscal 2010 budget request compiled last fall by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The $527 billion figure is “what the Bush people thought was the right number last February and that’s the number we’re going with,” said the OMB official, who declined to be identified. “The Joint Chiefs did that to lay down a marker for the incoming administration that was unrealistic. It’s more of a wish list than anything else.”

If that was what Fox did, then they should apologize.  Lord knows the Left did this constantly with the Bush administration, screeching about supposed cutbacks at the VA while the Bush administration was rapidly increasing spending at the agency, but not as fast as the Left wanted.  Budget comparisons are not that complicated — an increase is an increase, and a cut is a cut, but an increase above the rate of inflation is never a cut, in either the Bush or the Obama administration.

An eight percent increase seems like a reasonable amount, and could get amplified with an effort to clean up defense contracting and spending.  Getting pork out of the defense budget would certainly help in that regard, but if the stimulus package give any indication, the Obama administration doesn’t have much interest in that kind of change. Congress likes to complain that the Pentagon’s procurement processes waste money — and it does — but Congress forces them into spending hundreds of millions each year in non-competitive contracting that makes the situation worse.

It would also help if Congress would stop appropriating money for war efforts in Afghanistan and maintenance efforts in Iraq in supplemental spending bills.  Not only does undermine any sense of stability in funding, it also lends itself to even more pork and less accountability.  Gates estimates that he will need $70 billion in war funding in 2009, which should have been made part of the overall spending package.  Supplementals should only get used to fund unforeseen missions, and since we’ve been in Afghanistan for more than seven years and Iraq for almost six, those stopped qualifying in 2004 at the latest.

At any rate, it’s good to know that Obama hasn’t really cut the defense budget as Fox initially reported during a time of war.  Now, if we could get them to cut the rest of the budget ….

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Scorched_Earth on February 3

Their first satellite was named “Hope”. Any bets on the name of their second?

SKYFOX on February 3, 2009 at 7:58 AM

DeathToMediaHacks on February 2, 2009 at 5:08 PM

I see many conservatives criticizing Fox news for this.

I have never seen you criticize a liberal, regardless of how descpicable they act.

MarkTheGreat on February 3, 2009 at 8:26 AM

Someone check Cindy Sheehan’s pulse.

fogw on February 2, 2009 at 5:00 PM

that would require actually touching her. Eew.

MarkTheGreat on February 3, 2009 at 8:27 AM

This would seem to support the Fox version.


Dreamweaver on February 3, 2009 at 8:28 AM

How much you want to bet that this 8% increase is nothing more than show? Word has gone out to the Democrats on the hill that Obama will have no problem if they produce a budget with substantial military cuts in it.

MarkTheGreat on February 3, 2009 at 8:32 AM

HA! The “Bush lied. People died.” crowd who voted for Obama will have a flipping melt-down.

marklmail on February 3, 2009 at 8:34 AM

It seems to me that we just don´t know at this point.

el gordo on February 3, 2009 at 10:16 AM

Luxurious new bath houses for every base.

DarkCurrent on February 3, 2009 at 10:23 AM

MarkTheGreat on February 3, 2009 at 8:27 AM

If he has surgical gloves, its okay. I think . . .

Ryan Gandy on February 3, 2009 at 11:06 AM

Whatever. Obama is on the record favoring slashes in defense spending on all sorts of programs and reducing and sometimes eliminating R&D for complete systems. In short, he’ll favor a position until he doesn’t. Then we’ll be lectured to as to why we didn’t understand what he said in the first place.

For years the press carried the Democrat’s water by proclaiming that reductions in the rates of growth for social programs were cuts. Reducing expenditure growth for some social program from twice the rate of inflation to matching the inflation rate was a slash. Oh the children, grannies and destitute families. So if the Prez gets beat by the same political cudgel, sorry. Apply ice until the swelling goes down. Probably won’t leave a mark.

But on a more serious note,Obama has limited understanding of the military and no personal experience yet he demonstrates a high degree of confidence that borders on hubris. In many way, the new Prez seems to be the embodiment of an Über Technocrat, sort of a presidential version of Robert McNamara but without the operational and systems experience.

McNamara’s confidence was born out of his education and experience at Ford Motor. He and the other “whiz kids” represented the notion that really smart and proficient people could solve any problem. McNamara was thrown into the Secretary of Defense job with no military experience but approached the job based on his past operational experiences. How do the various parts work, what are the outputs and metrics.

Like McCamara, Obama has the intellectual self confidence that comes from an Ivy League education and no prior experience for the job he now holds. But unlike McNamara who could rely on his management experience with systems and operations, Obama has no previous applicable managment experience. Rather, Obama’s self confidence is based on working people and the system. We’ll soon see what happens when indulgent self confidence and a fawning press meets a series of intractable problems.

I think we’re starting to see some cracks in the mirror.

moxie_neanderthal on February 3, 2009 at 11:51 AM

“Budget comparisons are not that complicated — an increase is an increase, and a cut is a cut, but an increase above the rate of inflation is never a cut, in either the Bush or the Obama administration.” Ed

I don’t think these matters are straight forward. There are a number of games to be played with budget numbers especially in defense budgets. Keep in mind that there is a huge amount of defense and war related spending which has been kept outside the regular budget especially since the invasion of Iraq.

lexhamfox on February 3, 2009 at 12:43 PM