The Gates/Obama Reform Budget

Let me quote Matt Duss’ Wonk Room post on today’s defense budget announcement:

I don’t think it’s overstating things to say that Defense Secretary Gates’ announcement of his 2010 defense budget recommendations represents an appreciable shift in the way that the United States approaches the issue of military acquisitions. Applying lessons learned in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as signifying a recognition that the continuing economic crisis places real constraints on defense spending, Gates’ recommendations are an important — but by no means comprehensive — move toward a responsible re-balancing of America’s defense priorities. […]

Gates laid a shot across the bow of those in Congress who are likely to try and reinstate beloved boondoggles like the Airborne Laser and the F-22 Raptor, (which Gates recommended canceling after 187 are built) saying “I know that in the coming weeks we will hear a great deal about threats, and risk and danger -– to our country and to our men and women in uniform –- associated with different budget choices. Some will say I am too focused on the wars we are in and not enough on future threats.”

These are important shifts and this is audacious policy. Frankly, you’ve got to worry that it may be too audacious. The defense budget looks the way it looks because that’s how the key players in congress want it to look, and I don’t really know what Robert Gates or Barack Obama can do about that.