Want to know where an Obama administration is going to look for cuts and trims in the Pentagon's budget? I suggest starting with the U.S. Government Accountability Office's reports last year that found major defense programs this decade breached their original budgets by about $295 billion and on average are delivered about two years late.
Obama, the former junior Democratic senator from Illinois, has long heralded the work of congressional auditors and researchers as many Democrats often did against the Bush administration. So maybe it should come as no surprise that his chief of staff, former Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.), readily cites such statistics and facts - like he did this morning on NBC's Meet with Press.
Emanuel misinterpreted the GAO's headline-grabbing conclusion as he was responding to the show's host, David Gregory. But that's beside the point. The important thing to note is Emanuel's easy and immediate citation of the GAO findings to defend and promote the Obama administration's moves.
"On an annual basis [sic] we have about $300 billion in cost overruns," Emanuel responded to Gregory. "That must be addressed, and we will be addressing it."
GAO's reports, along with others from the Congressional Budget Office and Congressional Research Service, have provided some ready made blueprints - and even political cover - for Obama officials to "scrub" the Defense Department's budget, as Obama has promised to do across the federal government. And I expect the Obama administration to pay attention to them. It's not just their predilection toward such reports, but the fact that former CBO Director Peter Orszag will be heading the White House Office of Management and Budget.
Indeed, here's the latest from CBO. Happy reading!