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Finding Cover for Defense Cuts

Here is another worrisome indication that defense-budget cuts are indeed in the offing. According to this article in Defense News:

Confronted by two costly wars and a collapsing economy, the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee is preparing to trim military spending on weapons, committee chairman Sen. Carl Levin said Jan. 30…. “We are going to cut weapons systems,” Levin said during a news conference in an ornate Armed Services Committee hearing room.

“That’s not just me speaking. The secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs [of Staff] have spoken about [how] we have got to face the reality that there’s going to be a reduction somewhere in the defense budget,” said Levin, D-Mich.

“We don’t want to reduce personnel; we don’t want to shortchange personnel” amid a war, he said. “So we’ve got to look to the future and make savings there. There’s the fact of life.”

There is something deeply disingenuous going on when Levin says “That’s not just me speaking.” He then goes on to quote senior Defense Department leaders indicating that they have to face the reality of a cut in the budget. But note that Secretary of Defense Bob Gates and Admiral Mike Mullen aren’t saying that the defense budget should be cut on the merits. They are perfectly aware that, notwithstanding a surge of war-related supplemental appropriations since 9/11, the armed forces have pressing demands — ranging from extra soldiers to newer aerial tankers and more ships — that desperately need to be addressed.

All they’re saying is that it is likely the defense budget will be cut given the politics of Washington today. No doubt, part of what they have in mind is that Republicans, traditionally the pro-defense party, are now being rendered increasingly powerless. All power is accumulating in the hands of super-liberal Democrats like Levin who are pushing for cuts in the defense budget at the same time that they are also pushing through a massive increase in domestic spending in the guise of economic “stimulus.”

The big question at the moment is whether President Obama will go along with the far-left of his own party. Will he increase spending on the National Endowment of the Arts while cutting spending on defense? If so, as I noted before, his carefully nurtured image of moderation will begin to fray fast.