Saturday, January 30, 2010

Steak For Them, Thin Soup For Us

President Obama has proposed a freeze on federal spending for the next several years, apparently concerned about the growing federal deficit, or rather, concerned about the GOP's gripes about the growing federal deficit. Almost everything is on the table for that freeze: education, funding for medical and other scientific research, foreign aid, enforcement of environmental regulations, even Social Security and Medicare. What is not on the table, however, is defense spending. The Pentagon and its contractor buddies will still be able to live large, according to a draft copy of the 2011 defense budget.

From Washington Post:

The Obama administration's 2011 defense budget avoids the controversial weapons cuts of last year, according to a draft copy, and continues to shift modest amounts of money to weapons programs such as helicopters, unmanned planes and Special Operations units that are in heavy use Afghanistan and Iraq. ...

Although Obama has proposed a three-year freeze on federal spending, he has exempted the Pentagon from these limits, allowing an increase of about 2 percent when the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are stripped out of the budget. In addition to the more than $700 billion budget, the president will also ask for about $33 billion to pay for the surge of about 30,000 troops into Afghanistan.

Much of the new spending in the 2011 budget will be directed to weapons programs in heavy use in Afghanistan. The budget calls on the Air Force to double the number of MQ-9 Reapers, which are unmanned planes that can carry precision bombs, over the next several years. The extra planes will allow the Air Force to increase from about 37 to 65 the number of long-range, unmanned surveillance aircraft that it can keep airborne during combat missions.

The Army and Marine Corps will get almost $10 billion for helicopters, which have been essential to moving troops across Afghanistan and have been in short supply since the beginning of the war in 2001. The budget also calls for increasing spending for Special Operations forces by about 6 percent, to $6.3 billion. Those forces have played a central role in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, where they have trained indigenous counterterrorism troops.
[Emphasis added]

Secretary of Defense Gates, a hold over from the Bush administration, followed through on his promise to cut unnecessary weapons programs last year, but that was last year and I guess that's the end of it. We won't have the F-22, but the F-35 can stay (and continue to grow way over its initial budget). We'll also have more helicopters and unmanned drones and fancy missiles to use in Afghanistan and Pakistan and Yemen and Iraq in our eternal war against terrorists.

Priorities, people! Fighting wars is important, more important than affordable health care and real jobs and education.

This soup needs another rock.

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