As budget day dawns, it's worth remembering what Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI), the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said a couple of weeks back of Defense Secretary Robert Gates' plans to unveil defense spending changes himself -- before they even get to the White House:
One benefit, according to Levin, is the recommendations are usually leaked once they reach the Office of Management and Budget: “So you can avoid the leakage by simply saying, 'This is what I am recommending to the president,'” the Michigan Democrat said.
An early release would also ensure that most of the blowback from the major program cuts expected in the FY-10 proposal would fall mostly on the Pentagon and not the administration. “Instead of having the president or the president's budget take the heat, ((this)) is kind of a heat shield,” Levin said. “That does not mean OMB or the president will not get it, they ((will)) get less of it.”
It's also worth noting that the president is thousands of miles away today as his Republican defense secretary unveils what promises to be a controversial package of proposals -- putting Republicans on the Hill in the position of taking on a fellow GOPer they have spent the last two-plus years praising.
We will, of course, be following it all very closely today, on the site and right here on Defense: Next. Stay tuned.
-- Dan Dupont