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New Budget, Same as the Old Budget

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Fred Kaplan
Friday, Feb 27, 2009

Obama plans to spend as much on defense as Bush did.

Much remains unknown about the shape of President Barack Obama’s debut defense budget. Details won’t be announced—several key decisions won’t be made—until April. But from the broad numbers released this morning, two things seem clear:

First, it is larger than it appears to be at first glance.

Second, not counting the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are projected to decline significantly—in other words, looking just at the Defense Department’s base-line budget for weapons production, research and development, uniformed personnel, and so forth—Obama’s estimates for military spending over the next few years are roughly the same as George W. Bush’s.

If huge change is in the works at the Pentagon, it will come in the form of budgets reshuffled, not reduced.

And yet, there are signs—they can be gleaned from the numbers—that serious changes are in the offing, that some lumbering weapons programs will be slashed, perhaps canceled, though it’s probably also the case that other programs will be boosted or accelerated to compensate.

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t

The basic outlines are these. The Obama administration is requesting $533.7 billion for the Defense Department in fiscal year 2010—a $20.4 billion, or 4 percent, increase over its budget this year, the last budget passed by the Bush administration.

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This article was posted: Friday, February 27, 2009 at 4:13 am

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