Eric Martin tackles what Andrew Bacevich calls the "severed the connection between military spending and all other fiscal or political considerations":
That "severing" as Bacevich terms it, renders meaningless the clamoring for "small government" and "fiscal discipline" that percolates from conservative quarters every time a Democrat inhabits the White House - even if some now rush to repudiate the Cheney claim that "deficits don't matter." Discretionary spending is a relatively small fraction of government outlays when you factor in real costs of operating government, spending on entitlements, financing the debt and, alas, defense spending (discretionary and non). And yet the small government proponents bracket off defense spending and remove it from all discussions on how to reduce the size of the federal budget. But by doing so, they have rendered the conversation moot, unless they want to really make a push to eliminate (or vastly reduce) entitlement programs. Good luck with that.
The next few years will require a massive deleveraging of America. By that, I mean ordinary people finally paying down their insane levels of debt, the federal government beginning to undo the legacy of the most spendthrift administration since LBJ, and withdrawal of troops from Iraq by 2011. More to the point: we may have no economic choice at all in any of this. Call it the Bush straitjacket.