By lex, on June 30th, 2011
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates steps down from office Thursday, and with the clock ticking on his four and one half years of stewardship, is at liberty to speak truth to power:
Military spending is not the cause of the $1.4 trillion U.S. budget deficit, and even a “disastrous” 10 percent cut would only reduce the budget shortfall by some $50 billion — about 4 percent, Defense Secretary Robert Gates says.
Gates, in his final interview as Pentagon chief before stepping down on Friday, offered a robust defense of his effort to trim military spending since 2009 and said his successor was “on board” with his measured approach for finding new cuts.
President Barack Obama has called on the Defense Department to come up with $400 billion in reductions over 12 years as he struggles to reduce the country’s $1.4 trillion deficit and $14 trillion debt.
Gates saw the writing on the wall two years ago and began an efficiency drive — an effort that resulted in cuts expected to produce $154 billion in savings over five years due to reduced overhead and better business practices.
“I saw this train coming and knew we were going to have to get better and more disciplined if we were going to … defend ourselves at all,” he said. “We had to be seen as out in front in trying to do smart things to make this place more efficient and more cost-effective…”
If the base Pentagon budget were cut by 10 percent — “which would be disastrous” for the military — that would only be $50 billion of a $1.4 trillion deficit, Gates said. “We are not the problem.”
But if you factor in the elimination of those tax breaks for corporate jet owners, you get a whopping 1/10th of one percent closer to the president’s debt reduction goal.
There is a plan.