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The "Spigot" Slows on Defense

Author: Michael Moran
January 29, 2009


With more than $800 billion in stimulus spending looming like a tsunami above the domestic economy, signs of irrational exuberance abound.

"Early Towns May Get Early Stimulus Checks" cries the Press of Atlantic City, N.J. "Keys Seek Stimulus for Sewer Projects," writes KeysNet.com of Florida. "Stimulus Could Energize Green Firms" says Marketplace, the public radio program. "Obama Stimulus Could Transform County," the Star Beacon tells its readers in Ashtbula County, Ohio.

But the mood is quite different in the recently booming defense sector.

The advent of the Obama administration has the Defense Department and the military services facing a harsh reality that the "Long War" mentality of the Bush administration years had delayed.

Put simply: The military can no longer afford the pace of the Bush administration's new weapons purchases at the same time as it fights two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, maintains operations all over the globe, expands the overall size of the Army and Marine Corps, and attempts to build missile defenses that, for now, continue to fail most field tests despite billions and billions of dollars spent on research and development.

"The spigot of defense funding opened by 9/11 is closing," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee in testimony Jan. 27, echoing other officials and military analysts who see the budget train wreck fast approaching.

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