THE BUDGET

Obama Vs. Military Spending

While observers tend to frame debates over military spending as a left vs. right issue, President Obama is likely to face a stiffer challenge from his own party in tackling out-of-control defense appropriations this year. The military is a notorious source for wasted cash—outdated weapons systems and no-bid contracts can move quietly through Congress with the support of pork-loving legislators looking to score score jobs for their constituents. "Too many contractors have been allowed to get away with delay after delay in developing unproven weapon systems," Obama said recently. It was Democrats, however, who larded a 2008 appropriations bill with an estimated $524 million in defense earmarks the Pentagon did not request, some $220 million more than Republicans did. Obama will have to face off with these lawmakers if he wants to reform spending.