Media Matters attacked Sean Hannity yesterday for “falsely” claiming the Obama administration is cutting the military budget and “misleadingly” clipping Defense Secretary Robert Gates. Contra, Media Matters, Hannity is correct on both counts.
Cutting the Defense Budget:
Media Matters notes that the current FY 2009 Pentagon budget is slightly over $513 billion and that Obama’s proposed FY 2010 budget is almost $534 billion. This makes it seem like a defense budget increase, but this isn’t an accurate comparison to make. President Bush’s FY 2009 budget projected allocating $549.8 billion in FY 2010. So Obama’s $534 billion actually represents an almost 3% cut in proposed spending.
More important are the future budget projections. Both the Bush FY 2010 projection and the Obama FY 2010 request fall significantly below the 4% of GDP benchmark of what is needed for defense. Using the CBO GDP projection, the appropriate number for the Department of Defense’s core program in FY 2010 should be roughly $563 billion. The real problem is the 10-year projection from the Obama Administration budget outline. In this case, the cumulative budget shortfall for core defense program (including non-DOD portions) is roughly $1.3 trillion against the 4% of GDP benchmark.
Cutting Missile Defense:
There is no way around this one. Secretary Gates flat out said “Overall, the Missile Defense Agency program will be reduced by $1.4 billion.” Media Matters spins: “Gates addressed rogue state missile threats, asserting that his proposals would focus on such threats.” But Gates’ proposals do not adequately address rogue state missile threats.
The Department of Defense has long recognized the need to maximize the capabilities of a comprehensive missile defense system by having a layered missile defense architecture, which would target attacking missiles in the boost phase, mid-course phase and terminal phase of flight. Gates’ budget scales back funding for boost-phase systems like the Airborne Laser Program and eliminates funding for some mid-course phase systems like the Multiple Kill Vehicle program.