WSJ story from 22 October. It was the chart that caught my eye.
Per a post I should have out later today at Esquire, most experts don't see the GOP takeover of the House impacting defense spending all that much, even though it's the biggest (now at just under 20% of the Feb budget) discretionary item at over $700B in 2010.
The Tea Partiers, most notably the new senator from Kentucky, Rand Paul, say there's plenty of waste to be cut. But with Gates already earnestly trying to clip $100B over five years, it's hard to see the House coming after the Pentagon while Iraq is winding down and Afghanistan remains hot.
The longer-term problem: what drives a lot of defense growth is the same thing driving Medicare's similar trajectory: higher medical costs.
Tony Cordesman at CSIS says Gates' efficiency drive only buys time in the face of these twin internal and external pressures. In my mind, that reality makes Obama's efforts to reform healthcare look less "out there."
I am one who thinks Europe's current struggles with budgets, pensions, defense cuts, etc. are a harbinger of what we eventually end up doing. Our engagement with the world will be deemed "excessive" (Barney Frank's term) in light of all this fiscal tightness.
And then how China inevitably steps into that void, and how we interpret that trend, will determine much.
That's why the sad state of Sino-American mil-mil cooperation could turn out to be a decisive non-enabler of what should have logically followed.