Senators Raise Concerns about Defense Cuts in Letter to Gates
10:15 AM, Mar 25, 2009 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
Today, 14 U.S. Senators sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Gates raising concerns about cuts in the defense budget (see the full letter after the jump). Although Obama's baseline budget seems to reflect an increase from Bush's, the senators point out that with changes in supplemental funding taken into account, the fact is programs will be cut. In the March 9 issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Tom Donnelly crunched the numbers:
In 2011, Donnelly writes, Obama budgets for "wartime costs of just $50 billion. Based on the numbers, by 2011 Obama plans to be fighting the 'Long War' at less than one-third the cost of the effort of 2008."
To understand how irresponsible the Obama defense budget is, see the Washington Post's story today "GAO Calls Iraq Pullout A 'Massive,' Costly Effort":
So if costs will increase in Iraq during the withdrawal, which defense programs does Obama plan to cut? The senators write to Gates that Congress has not "been informed about which particular programs will be affected. This lack of information raises a number of important questions, with potentially troubling answers. ... It is unclear how the administration, if it intends to cut supplemental funding, expects to maintain our military forces in the field and enable them to conduct their missions safely and effectively."
What's more, the problem with the defense budget is that the Obama administration is, in effect, trying to undermine the ability of the Congress to do due diligence when it comes to the budget and defense by forcing a vote on the top line without knowing what's below it. Therefore, the senators request that the administration specify which expenditures will be moved from the supplemental to the baseline budget. They've also requested risk assessments by combatant commanders.
Kudos to the 14 Republican senators for understanding and taking seriously the security implications of the Obama budget. "Now is not the time to attempt to cash in a 'peace dividend,' while thousands of our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are serving in harm's way, engaged in military operations in two major theaters of conflict overseas, with other very real threats on the horizon," they conclude.
It's hard to believe that more senators--especially in the Republican caucus--don't share those same concerns.
The full letter after the jump...
The Honorable Robert Gates
Dear Secretary Gates: