An article in the Washington Independent today, in which I’m quoted, points to one – particularly glaring – problem with President Obama’s proposed spending freeze: Why does the proposal exclude defense spending?
From the piece, by Spencer Ackerman:
But while Obama did not rule out future defense cuts in the speech, many of these defense wonks could not understand why an effort at deficit reduction would explicitly exclude defense spending. “Defense spending is over half our discretionary spending,” Olson said. “It would be crazy not to include it. It begs the question whether this is a real effort.” Shortly before the speech, Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the speaker of the House, told reporters that any spending freeze ought to include defense spending.
Still, Todd Harrison, an defense-budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, said he believed the combination of massive defense budgets, massive federal deficits and a weak economy would inevitably compel Congress and the president to cut defense. “It’s likely in the future that everything will come under pressure, defense included,” Harrison said. But he conceded that a variable in that calculation is “political will” for such cuts — which is not in evidence in either the White House or, especially, the Congress, which loves to send defense money back home to individual states and districts.
Also today, Fred Kaplan writes that, “If some Rip Van Winkle had fallen asleep in 1982, woken up in 2009, and looked at the U.S. military budget as an indicator of what was going on in the world, he would assume that the Cold War were still raging.” He notes that, while every aspect of the Pentagon’s budget should not be subject to a spending freeze, there is certainly a large chunk that should.