All my gratitude to Stan for his leadership and his invitation to me to write for CG&G. All the other bloggers have taught me much. And the defense budget debate and issues are only beginning to heat up; It will be a busy year next year. Look forward to the budget going down more than Secretary Panetta thinks it will. Look for it to decline more than $1 trillion over the next ten years, which is a more shallow build down than any of the previous three build downs (Korea, Vietnam, Cold War). And expect the republic and its security to survive. I will continue to write and blog on this in the next year. Look for it at AOLDefense, The Will and the Wallet, Battleland, and the National Journal. The journey continues.
Some people, like Ezra Klein, think the taxes/unemployment agreement pending before the Congress this week amply demonstrates that "no one [including the Congress] really cares about the deficit," since the package will add roughly $900 billion to the deficit over the next couple of years. Maybe some people are right. Members of Congress have rarely been reluctant to push a pet spending rock when the opportunity presented itself and this agreement is expensive.
But this was a peculiar kind of opportunity – the last gasp of an outgoing Congress. Easy to blame them, when next year rolls around. But when the posturing stops this week and the last Congress slinks out of town, the last month will have been memorable for the way it changed the atmosphere around deficits, particularly with respect to defense.
As the debate over defense begins to heat up, and it is heating up, the facts are getting muddled. Seems like people don't know what Bob Gates is and is not doing. For example, John Guardiano on Frumforum today asserts that Obama and the Democrats have cut $330 billion from defense already and are determined to "gut defense," in cooperation with Rep. Ron Paul. And Doug Schoen in the Wall Street Journal yesterday "Gates has already voiced his support for significant cuts in defense spending," and Obama should join up with him.
Check them both out, but keep your salt shaker handy.
Fiscal austerity has arrived in Europe, and defense is not being spared, which now risks opening a new round of useless bickering over the "defense burden." The Germans have announced plans to reduce their combat forces by more than one third, or 85,000. The French are slowing their defense acquisition programs and looking for new ways to partner on projects with their allies. And the UK announced yesterday a plan to reduce their defense plans by eight percent over the next four years, retiring its Harrier aircraft, elimin
The fear mongers are back in full force in the Wall Street Journal today. Arthur Brooks, Ed Feulner, and Bill Kristol attempted a preemptive strike against anyone who would touch the sacred defense budget or dare to suggest that it might be included in efforts to reduce the federal deficit. And as usual, they are trotting out old half-facts and fear words to try to make their case. As Samuel Beckett said in ENDGAME, “Ah, the old questions, the old answers, there’s nothing like them!”