The Corner


In today’s speech on his deficit reduction “plan,” the president listed significant cuts to defense as one of the key pillars of his approach. Did he get his Defense Secretary on board before announcing that? It certainly doesn’t seem that way:


Although the defense secretary believed the Pentagon could not be “exempt” from efforts to reduce the rising deficit, cutting military spending in coming years would require difficult choices and could not be merely a “budget math exercise,” Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said.


“The secretary has been clear that further significant defense cuts cannot be accomplished without reducing force structure and military capability,” Morrell said.


Gates’ stern response suggested a rift between the White House and the defense secretary, who has cautioned previously that dramatic cuts in military spending could have dire consequences.


Gates only learned of the president’s plan for defense spending goals on Tuesday, his spokesman said.


Another chapter for the annals of management from this administration.


Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.


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