Gates Fakes Cuts, Drives Spending

During the Bush administration’s post-Sept. 11 years, the United States spent $4.6 trillion — in 2010 dollars — on defense, or about $460 billion a year, excluding war costs. This was a 17.5 percent increase over the post-Cold War, peace dividend years of 1991-2000, slightly above the Cold War average of $450 billion per year.

One year ago, President Barack Obama laid out a defense plan for 2011-2020 that called for spending $5.8 trillion — or $580 billion a year. This represented an additional 25 percent real increase in defense spending above the 1990s.

Meanwhile, the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform recently proposed a defense program of $4.9 trillion — or $490 billion a year for 2011-2020. This is a 15 percent decrease from Obama’s plan but still 6 percent more than the Bush years and the Cold War average.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates called the commission’s proposed cuts catastrophic and is determined to fend off any cuts of that magnitude. But under pressure from the White House, Gates reluctantly agreed to more than $78 billion in reductions from 2012 to 2015, a cut of 4 percent from Obama’s plan.

This article was originally published in Politico.