On the campaign trail Monday, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), the Republican nominee for president, attempted to portray his Democratic opponent as inconsistent and soft on national security issues. He blasted Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), the Democratic nominee, for proposing to increase defense spending, despite a past commitment to “slow our development of future combat systems” and “cut investments in unproven missile-defense systems.” McCain argued that the world has become too dangerous to even consider these options.
Yet, just over a month ago, McCain’s senior economic advisor, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, promised that McCain would de-fund these very same programs. In a submission to the Washington Post editorial board, Holtz-Eakin claimed that McCain would save $160 billion from reduced discretionary funding, some of it from Pentagon procurements, and another $150 billion from reduced deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Among the defense procurement programs McCain promised to ax from the budget were:
- The Airborne Laser (ABL), a project to develop plane-mounted anti-missile laser technology. The program could give the U.S. the capability to shoot down ballistic missiles in their boost phase, soon after launch.
- The Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS), a program of combat support vehicles and technology, designed to make the army a more flexible, easily deployable force.
These programs should be the target of budget cuts, and both Obama and McCain are right to say so. Read more