Defense bears brunt of cuts

US Defense Secretary Robert Gates speaks to US troops during his visit to the Forward Operating Base Ramrod in southern Afghanistan yesterday. He has bolstered spending on helicopters, unmanned aircraft and other resources for counter-insurgency campaigns. Photo: AFP

US President Barack Obama proposed nearly $17 billion worth of spending cuts yesterday in his detailed 2010 budget plan, a step toward his goal of cutting costs during tough economic times.
However, the cuts make up only 0.5 percent of the $3.6 trillion plan. “This is an important first step, but it is not the end of the process. We will continue to look for additional savings,” an official told AFP afterward on condition of anonymity.
The cuts involved 121 programs, half of which were defense-related.
The other half came from programs that have strong support among progressive activists who cheered Obama’s election.
An administration official said that more than $200 billion would be saved by the proposed program cuts in the next 10 years.
The defense cuts had already been hinted at by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, officials said before the release of the budget plan.
Gates has bolstered spending on helicopters, unmanned aircraft and other resources for counter-insurgency campaigns such as the one in Afghanistan.
However, he has scaled back some big weapons projects such as the F-22 fighter aircraft, missile defense and naval warships.
Other programs on the chopping block include a $35 million long-range radio navigation system made obsolete by GPS, $142 million in payments to states to clean up abandoned mines, $66 million in education programs such as Even Start and Head Start that were performing poorly, and the withdrawal of a $632,000 US education attaché in Paris.
Obama forecasted in late February a budget deficit this year of $1.75 trillion, which is equivalent to 12.3 percent of the gross domestic product, the highest deficit percentage since World War II.
So, the mammoth $3.6 trillion spending plan was thought to demonstrate Obama’s resolution to lift the gloomy economy and support his promises of expanding US healthcare and reducing greenhouse emissions.
In addition to the $17 billion in cuts, the plan also touched on taxes, wars, healthcare and the climate.
Obama proposed to improve tax collection to sustain 19 percent of the economy by 2013, up three percentage points from 2009.
The budget also assumed an abated government spending to 22 percent of the economy in 2013, down from about 26 percent in 2009.
The costs of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars were expected to decline to $130 billion in the 2010 fiscal year, down $10 billion from 2009.
Obama’s budget also includes a 10-year, $634 billion reserve fund to help pay for his proposed healthcare reforms and hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue starting in 2012 from a greenhouse-gas emissions trading system.

0 Post a Comment: