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$40 billion increase in proposed Pentagon budget spun as ‘defense cuts’ by right wing.

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"$40 billion increase in proposed Pentagon budget spun as ‘defense cuts’ by right wing."

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The Obama administration is reportedly capping the Pentagon’s 2010 budget for non-war spending at $527 billion, a level previously recommended by Bush administration officials. Despite the fact that this will represent an 8 percent increase over 2009 funding levels, conservative commentators are painting the cap as a budget cut. CQ’s Josh Rogin reports:

Some Pentagon officials and congressional conservatives are already trying to portray the OMB number as a cut by comparing it to a $584 billion draft fiscal 2010 budget request compiled last fall by the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The $527 billion figure is “what the Bush people thought was the right number last February and that’s the number we’re going with,” said the OMB official, who declined to be identified. “The Joint Chiefs did that to lay down a marker for the incoming administration that was unrealistic. It’s more of a wish list than anything else.”

Defense budget experts have said the draft by the Joint Chiefs, which was never publicly released, was designed to pressure the Obama administration to drastically increase defense spending or be forced to defend a reluctance to do so.

Chris Bowers notes, “While it is disappointing that the Obama administration is not looking to cut the defense budget during its first year in office, generally speaking this does not seem like a year when spending of any sort is being cut.”

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