Cutting the Defense Budget

How do you tell someone their favorite defense program is no longer going to be funded?  Secretary Gates did it as well as anyone could have when he made his announcement earlier this week.  I think that will turn out to have been the easy part.

So what are people saying about his proposals?

From the Boston Globe  article titled “Deep Cuts, New Chances”

For the defense sector, which in recent years has posted big profits from a rapid run-up in military spending, the new focus was a mixed message. Big programs appear to be in jeopardy, but others may be built up under Gates’ plan.

“This budget represents an opportunity, one of those rare chances to match virtue to necessity, and ruthlessly separate appetites from real requirements,” Gates said of his $534 billion spending plan for the 2010 fiscal year.

Many defense stocks jumped Monday even as the broader market fell. Shares of Lockheed Martin Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. each rose nearly 9 percent. Analysts said the big gains, which occurred as Gates made his early afternoon speech, were likely because the budget cuts were not as bad as some investors had anticipated.

The New York Times said the reaction was mixed

Members of Congress and advocates for the armed services pushed back on Tuesday against Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’s plans to pare billions of dollars from a variety of Pentagon weapons systems, but others said that the cuts were prudent and that fights over them would be limited to several leading programs.

Military analysts said the biggest lobbying campaigns would be focused on Mr. Gates’s proposed cutbacks in the F-22, the advanced stealth fighter that critics call a relic of the cold war, as well as his trimming of the Army’s $160 billion modernization project, called the Future Combat Systems.

Members of Congress from Georgia and Oklahoma, where the jet and the Army project mean jobs, promised a fight. The arguments, which were frequently directed by Republicans against one of their own — Mr. Gates, one of two Republicans in President Obama’s cabinet — were cast in terms of national security and moral responsibility.

But the best commentary is from Jon Stewart in a segment titled “Full Metal Budget”

The fight between regions, technologies and the future of the military has begun.

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