Media and Conservatives Exaggerate Gates' Plan
April 7, 2009 - 4:21pm ET
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates released on Monday a proposal to reform the Pentagon budget by modestly cutting a few weapons programs, but stopped well short of slashing the bloated Pentagon budget. Though when surveying the reaction among mainstream media and conservatives, one would think radical change was coming—a sort of Pentagon doomsday.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, far from drastic budget cuts, Gates’ recommendations chart the Pentagon on a slightly different course. DOD spending for FY 2010 will be increased and later years maintained at current levels. Obama and Gates warned of Pentagon reforms and greater oversight (a good step in the right direction), but little savings will be yielded from the current proposal.
Contrary to reality, here is a look at some deceptive media headlines:
- “Gates Takes Knife to Pentagon Budget” reads Time Magazine
- “Gates Unveils Sweeping Defence Cuts” states the Financial Times
- “Gates Seeks Sharp Turn in Spending” prints the Washington Post
Conservatives exaggerated too; they wasted no time to lambaste Obama as weak on defense—even though defense spending is at an all time high since World War II.
From Heritage's Blog:
“Should the defense budget Obama submitted to Congress be implemented along with the many ill-advised cuts outlined by Gates, America’s ability to project power throughout the global commons and maintain its military primacy across the spectrum will be doubted by friend and foe alike...This path will ensure America becomes a declining military power.”
“The military he [Obama] is meeting with needs the weapons of the next generation to remain capable of winning on the battlefields where it fights. Americans are right to worry that a hollowing-out of the military has begun.”
With Gates’ recommendations laid out, the real battle begins in Congress. The defense lobby is already ready to fight, launching campaigns to save unnecessary weapons programs that cost tens of billions, such as this one.
Some members on Capitol Hill criticized Gates’ plan, Republican Sen. Inhofe of Oklahoma outrageously claims, “President Obama is disarming America. Never before has a president so ravaged the military at a time of war.”
A group of Senators led by Joe Lieberman (Conn.) wrote to the President stating their disapproval of cuts to missile defense. The other signatories include: Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Jon Kyl (Ariz.), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Jeff Sessions (Ala.) and James Inhofe (Okla.).
Significantly, the misinformation and hypocrisy on this issue must mobilize progressives to continue voicing support for substantial cuts to the defense budget to fund key domestic programs that actually strengthen our nation such as reforming health care and improving the quality of education.
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