Robert Gates’ Budget Dance

As Congress and the administration try to agree on reductions in federal spending, in order to avoid a government shutdown, the question about reducing the baseline defense budget for FY 2011 and FY 2012 has emerged as a point of contention. To understand why it should not be, it is necessary to go back three years.

In February 2008, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates requested that Congress appropriate $518 billion for the base defense budget (exclusive of war costs) for FY 2009, the last budget of the Bush administration. In presenting that budget, Gates said that if that amount were approved, and no changes were made to the defense program, the defense budget would need to rise to $533 billion in FY 2011 and $542 billion in FY 2012. At the time of Gates’ request, the base budget was $137 billion or 36 percent higher than in FY 2001, the first Bush budget, and the federal deficit was $459 billion.

This article was originally published in The Huffington Post.