Pentagon Planning Ambush

Looks like the Defense Department is getting ready to present a president-elect Obama or president-elect McCain with a tough choice, either abandon domestic spending priorities in favor of a huge and pointless hike in defense spending, or else open your administration with a politically bruising battle with the top brass:

Pentagon officials have prepared a new estimate for defense spending that is $450 billion more over the next five years than previously announced figures.

The new estimate, which the Pentagon plans to release shortly before President Bush leaves office, would serve as a marker for the new president and is meant to place pressure on him to either drastically increase the size of the defense budget or defend any reluctance to do so, according to several former senior budget officials who are close to the discussions. […]

“This is a political document,” said one former senior budget official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “It sets up the new administration immediately to have to make a decision of how to deal with the perception that they are either cutting defense or adding to it.”


As best I can tell it’s been years since anyone with influence in progressive politics tried to make a serious push to reign military spending in, but at the end of the day it’s going to be difficult to implement much of a progressive agenda without facing up to the “guns or butter” dilemma to at least some extent.